Israel will likely have to handle the threats on its northern border, including from Syria, on its own, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Sunday morning, as talk continues about the US possibly removing its troops from the war-torn country.
In an interview with Kan Radio on Sunday morning, Liberman said that US President Donald Trump had not consulted him about the possible US troop pullout.
“President Trump did not ask me [about Syria]. I operate out of the assumption that ultimately Israel will have to deal alone, both with the threat in the North and with the threat in the South,” Liberman said.
The US is Israel’s “main strategic ally, but it has its own considerations and we live here in the Middle East,” Liberman said.
He spoke after scores of civilians, including children, were killed in a government-led chemical attack
on a rebel holdout in the town of Douma in Syria on Saturday.
The United Nations and the Arab League has not condemned these deaths, Liberman said. He attacked the international community’s complacency on civilian deaths in the Middle East both in the Kan interview and in an additional interview with Army Radio.
Half a million people have been killed in the seven-year-long Syrian civil war, Liberman said, adding that hundreds of thousands of people have also been killed in the last years in Sudan, Libya and Iraq.
Over the weekend, 48 innocent people were killed in Syria, including 8 children and 6 women, he said.
“I have not heard the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres speak [of the chemical attack]. We have not seen the UN Security Council and the Arab League convene,” Liberman said.
“Over this weekend hundreds were also killed in Yemen, but that doesn’t interest anyone,” he said, adding that when Israel kills Palestinians in self-defense there is an immediate outcry.
On Friday, Israeli soldiers repelled an assault on its border fence with Gaza, killing nine Palestinians who had participated in the “Great March of Return,” a massive protest along the barrier’s route. Participants in the six-week event that began on March 30 hope to enter Israel by breaking down the fence.
Since the beginning of the march, the IDF has killed 31 Palestinians on the Gaza border, most of which the IDF says were Hamas operatives, while the Palestinians argue that they were peaceful protesters.
“We have no interest in perpetuating the conflict on the southern border. We will certainly do everything that is required in the South and in the North. But if they [the Palestinians] try to break the quiet and normal routine [along that border] we will respond accordingly,” Liberman said.
“We are prepared for any scenario, including one that involves both the South and the North,” he said.