Ya'alon: Israelis can continue with routine holiday plans, despite Syria tensions

Defense minister Moshe Ya'alon tells world summit conference hosted in Herzliya that the Syrian regime is wary of IDF firepower.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon 370 (photo credit: Ariel Harmoni, Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon 370
(photo credit: Ariel Harmoni, Ministry of Defense)
Israelis can continue with their holiday plans despite developments in Syria, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Sunday.
Speaking before the 13th annual world summit conference held by the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya, Ya’alon said the decision to encourage Israelis to proceed with their routines came after a security evaluation held earlier in the day.
“Israel’s neighbors – particularly Syria – understand that anyone who challenges us will meet the IDF’s power,” he said.
The Assad regime used chemical weapons against its civilians, he continued.
“We’re not involved in the Syrian civil war unless our interests are harmed or the red lines we set [are crossed],” Ya’alon said.
He defined the red lines as an attempt by Syria to transfer “quality weapons” to terrorist organizations, with an emphasis on Hezbollah, transferring chemical weapons, and harming our sovereignty.
The defense minister hinted that inaction by the US on Syria would be as significant for the region as action.
“We’re prepared for the consequence of action or inaction in Syria,” he said.
Later in his speech, Ya’alon said Syria is already divided into Alawite, Kurdish and Sunni areas.
He added that the Assad regime and its allies are challenging the world order through their pariah activities and state-sponsorship of terrorism.
“Those who think it is possible to introduce democratization to the Middle East through elections are wrong.
There is ignorance, naivety and patronism here. Western society sanctifies life, and more than a few circles [in the Middle East] sanctify death. This is an extreme difference,” he said.
“When human life isn’t important, how can one speak of human rights, women’s rights, freedom of expression – values we fight for,” Ya’alon said.
“Those who are challenging the regional order are the Iranian regime. It’s involved in every conflict in the Middle East. In Afghanistan and Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain. In Syria, Lebanon with Hezbollah, the Gaza Strip, Africa and South America. Iran stands at the top of states sponsoring terrorism in a very active way,” Ya’alon said.
“Syria too is a state sponsor of terrorism, which continues to host the Islamic Jihad headquarters in Damascus. The Syrian regime is willing to help anyone who wants to challenge us, whether it’s organizations in Gaza, supporting and arming Hezbollah, and more,” he said.
Such regimes have to be punished by the international system, Ya’alon said.