At 6 a.m. Friday, just hours after Trump announced the attack on the Syrian airbase which the Pentagon said played a part in last week’s chemical attack in Idlib, Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying that “in both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.”
Israel fully supports Trump’s decision, the statement continued, “and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
The statement was issued even though just over 12 hours earlier Russian President Vladimir Putin had reprimanded Israel in a phone call with Netanyahu, saying it was too early to say who was responsible for the sarin gas attack.
Netanyahu’s quick praise for the attack led to a conversation Friday morning with US Vice President Mike Pence, who – according to the Prime Minister’s Office – called Netanyahu and thanked him, on behalf of Trump, for Israel’s “strong support” for the American action in Syria.
According to the statement, Pence briefed Netanyahu as well on the details and result of the attack. Netanyahu reiterated the need to prevent the use of chemical weapons.
Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz also praised the attack shortly after it took place, saying he “welcomes the American response to the crossing of redlines by a brutal tyrant as an important step both morally and strategically, and clear signal to the axis led by Iran which supports him.”
“The American attack in Syria sends an important message of leadership to the Middle East and the entire world: America has returned to lead,” she said. “I congratulate President Trump on the right action after six long years when the entire region knew chaos and slaughter without an appropriate American response.”
Former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said that Iran, more than any other country in the world, is carefully paying attention to the US response, “taking into account that if they don’t behave, the military option is on the table, unlike the previous administration.”
During a conference call organized by the Israel Project, Amidror said that Iran bears responsibility for Assad’s actions, since they and Hezbollah have given him unqualified support over the years regardless of his brutality.
Amidror said that Iran supported Assad after his previous use of chemical weapons, and that there is no question that even if they did not have prior knowledge of the attack in Idlib, they are “morally responsible.”
Regarding whether Israel itself will take military action in Syria, as former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin suggested last week, Amidror said that Israel would remain “on the sidelines” but provide both humanitarian aid to the Syrians, and intelligence assistance to its allies acting inside Syria.
“We will stay on the sidelines, because our strategic decision was not to take part in this war,” he said. “If there is something specific that we can do militarily or from an intelligence point of view, I’m sure Israel will be willing to contribute to such efforts,” adding that “I’m sure we are active in helping our allies with intelligence.”
Amidror said that the two redlines that Israel set out remain: that Jerusalem will act in the future, as it has in the past, against the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, and to keep Hezbollah from using Syria as a launching pad for attacks against Israel.
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