Forget about Gaza, bomb Assad! Israeli hawks urge US to strike Syria over Douma ‘chem attack’
Washington must launch a strike against Damascus in response to the alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma, the Israeli Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told the Army Radio on Sunday, commenting on the reports coming from anti-government groups in Syria. Erdan also said he personally hopes that the US would take military action against the Syrian government, which he blamed for the attack, the Jerusalem Post reports. The minister added that the Douma incident shows the “need” for a US troop buildup in Syria.
The Israeli construction minister and former IDF major general, Yoav Galant, went even further and called for a military strike aimed directly against the Syrian president. “[Bashar] Assad is the angel of death, and the world would be better without him,” Galant said. The Israeli opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on the US to take “decisive military action” against Syria.
At the same time, Israeli officials were apparently uncomfortable with the international community paying unwanted attention to developments in Gaza. Dozens of Palestinian protesters were killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during mass protests in the Gaza Strip – but Erdan says the global community has been looking in the wrong direction.
“The shocking attack shows the incredible international hypocrisy of the international community focusing on Israel confronting the terrorist organization Hamas that is sending civilians to our [border] fence, when dozens are being killed in Syria every day,” he said.
The Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also slammed the international community, for what he called willful ignorance of the human tragedies in Syria and other countries, and unjust criticism of Israel’s actions. The minister said in particular that the world was “complacent” about the deaths of civilians in Syria, all while condemning the IDF for killing Palestinians “in self-defense.”
At the same time, Lieberman did not rule out Israel’s own intervention in the Syrian conflict. “I always operate on the assumption that, at the end of the day, Israel has to deal alone with both the northern threat and the southern threat,” he told the Israeli KANN radio, when asked about the developments in Syria. He also criticized US President Donald Trump’s recent statements concerning the potential US troop withdrawal from Syria, by saying that “President Trump didn’t ask” him for an opinion on the matter.
The idea of Israel’s intervention in Syria was supported by the Israeli Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who called developments in the Middle Eastern country a “genocide … in its cruelest form." "We have a moral obligation not to keep quiet and to try and stop this massacre,” he said, as cited by the Times of Israel.
On Saturday, a number of rebel-linked groups, including the notorious “civil defense” group White Helmets, accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack that allegedly affected dozens of civilians in Eastern Ghouta’s town of Douma. The reports have provoked a wave of outrage in the West, as the US and the EU rushed to put the blame for the as-yet unverified incident on Damascus and Moscow.
Both Syria and Russia dismissed the accusations and called the reports fake news, aimed at helping extremists and justifying potential strikes against Syrian forces.
The statements of the Israeli officials come at a time when IDF are engaged in a brutal crackdown on the Palestinian protesters in Gaza. The protests began on March 30 and are expected to continue up until May 15, which, for Palestinians, marks the forced mass exodus from their land during the establishment of the state of Israel. Israelis celebrate it as Independence Day.