Netanyahu, Israeli leaders praise U.S.-led strike

The prime minister said Iran’s entrenchment endangers Syria as much as chemical arms do.

U.S. air strikes on Damascus released by U.S. Department of Defense, April 14, 2018 (Reuters)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the US, France and Britain for their attack on Saturday morning in Syria, but stressed that Iranian entrenchment there endangers Syria as much as the chemical weapons.
“It should be clear to President [Bashar] Assad that his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria,” the prime minister said on Saturday evening.
Netanyahu said that he declared Israel’s full support for President Donald Trump’s decision a year ago to take a stand against Assad’s use of chemical weapons when the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base following a previous use of chemical weapons.
“President Trump’s resolve and Israel’s support remain unchanged,” Netanyahu said. “Early this morning, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to declarations of principle.”
Channel 10 News reported that new US National Security Adviser John Bolton spoke in the days preceding the attack with his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat about the pending attack, and that Ben-Shabbat also held discussions on Thursday with British National Security Adviser Mark Sidwell, and on Friday with his French counterpart, Philippe Etienne.
According to the report, Ben-Shabbat expressed Israel’s support for the strike on the chemical weapons facilities, but stressed that the greater strategic problem for Israel was Iran’s entrenchment in Syria, something that will not be solved by destroying chemical weapons facilities.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said: “I commend President Trump, President Macron and Prime Minister May who led the attack on Assad’s chemical weapons facilities. Despite the limited nature of the strike, after a period of silence the civilized world sent a clear message to Assad that it won’t remain silent while he murders children.
According to Lapid, “The real test now is the coalition’s ability to maintain the military and diplomatic pressure on the dictator from Damascus. Israel will continue to act against the Iranian presence in Syria and won’t take orders from any regional actor when it comes to our vital security interests.”
Deputy Minister Michael Oren said the attack on Syria is “necessary for the security of the State of Israel, the Middle East and the whole world.
“This proves that President Trump is ready to stand behind the red line he set on the use of chemical weapons… this is a sharp, clear message: The US won’t allow [Assad] to continue behaving in this way,” Oren stated. “The fact that President Trump successfully put together a joint Western attack with the UK and France against Assad’s chemical weapon targets is another impressive achievement that strengthens his power and the legitimacy of his actions.”
Oren warned that it is important to pay attention to Iran’s increased involvement in Syria, and said Israel must stand behind its own red lines.
Hadash, the Arab-Jewish communist party that is part of the Joint List, organized a rally against the attack in front of the US Consulate in Jerusalem. The party condemned the attack and said that the US has a history of “aggression and bullying in the region, with the excuse of [destroying] weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be false.”