Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday condemned the recent massacre in Syria's Houla, expressing "revulsion" and placing blame for the incident squarely on Syrian President Bashar Assad. Netanyahu joins a growing chorus of condemnation by world powers, including the United Nations, the United States, Russia, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union.
Forces loyal to Assad killed at least 108 people and injured around 300, mostly women and children, on Friday in Houla in Homs province, according to the UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. The event marks one of the biggest massacres of the 14-month uprising against his rule. Syrian authorities have denied carrying out the attack, instead blaming it on "terrorists."
Netanyahu expressed his "revulsion over the ongoing massacre being perpetrated by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad against innocent civilians, which continued over the weekend in Houla and included dozens of innocent children," a press release stated.
The prime minister also took the opportunity to condemn Iran and Hezbollah for their roles in the ongoing violence in Syria. "Iran and Hezbollah are an inseparable part of the Syrian atrocities and the world needs to act against them," Netanyahu added.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for international intervention in Syria, saying that the massacre in Houla was proof of why Israel needed a strong military to protect it when needed.
"The massacre perpetrated by the Assad regime in Houla and the murder of children, women and elderly over the past year obligates the world to intervene," Barak said. "The barbaric crimes that Assad's regime commits and the support it enjoys from Iran and Hezbollah, obligate the world to act to stop it."
The UN Security Council announced it will meet on Sunday to discuss the Houla massacre, a sign of mounting outrage at the massacre which the government and rebels blamed on each other.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."
The White House said it was horrified by credible reports of brutal attacks on women and children in Houla. "These acts serve as a vile testament to an illegitimate regime that responds to peaceful political protest with unspeakable and inhuman brutality," a White House spokesman said.
Russia, which along with China has vetoed Security Council resolutions calling for tougher action, said the "tragic" events in Syria deserve condemnation and called for a UN assessment of the violence there. Moscow has rejected a British and French proposal for a Security Council statement on the Houla massacre, demanding a briefing from the head of the UN observer mission first.
The GCC of Sunni-led monarchies accused Assad's soldiers of using excessive force and urged the international community to "assume its responsibilities to halt the daily bloodshed in Syria."
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton spoke of a "heinous act perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its own civilian population" in a statement on Sunday. The head of the European parliament said it could amount to a war crime.
Deliberately refraining from assigning blame for the massacre, Hezbollah added its voice in condemnation of the recent developments in Houla. The Lebanon-based Shi'ite terrorist group, a main ally of the Assad regime, said on Sunday that it "strongly condemns the massacre and deplores those who carried it out."
An earlier version of this story had stated that 116 people were killed in the Houla massacre, citing a diplomat quoting General Robert Mood, head of the UN observer mission in Syria. The 116 figure was actually the rebel Free Syrian Army's estimate, diplomats said.
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