Netanyahu to Air Force Graduates: Israel “Will Do Everything in its Power to Protect Itself from” Syrian Threat
by Zach Pontz
Speaking during the ceremony for the Israel Air Force’s 165th graduating class Thursday, Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed the situation in Syria. “Everyone sees what is happening in Syria. The (Syrian) air force is bombing its own citizens and not refraining from using any means, including the use of weapons banned by international treaties.”
The comments come a day after reports that Netanyahu held secret meetings in Jordan recently to discuss the situation in Syria.
Fears have become widespread that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will use any means necessary to hold onto power in the country, which has been torn apart by a civil war that has been waged for two years between his forces and rebels.
Unsubtantiated reports have been filtering out that he has already used chemical weapons against the rebels.
An article in the New York Times earlier in the week outlined Assad’s current status. While quoting several sources that say Assad is fully aware that he must leave Syria, others were quoted as saying that Assad’s inner circle will do everything necessary to retain power in the country. One friend of Assad said the president’s advisers are “hotheads” who tell him, “‘You are weak, you must be strong,'” adding, “They are advising him to strike more, with the planes, any way that you can think of.”
During the IAF graduation address Netanyahu said Israel is “closely monitoring the developments in Syria and will do everything in its power to protect itself from this and any other threat.”
Also speaking during the ceremony was Defense Minister Ehud Barak who spoke of his decision to quit politics. “This is apparently the last course I will address in my current role. The reality of our lives here puts security at the top of the list of priorities. Without it we cannot guarantee the future of the state. Many challenges lie ahead of us, and the IDF and Air Force will respond to all future challenges, from near and afar.”
Addressing the recent operation in Gaza, Barak said the Air Force “has proven its might over the years, and it proved it yet again during Operation Pillar of Defense. Hamas was dealt a severe blow and was surprised by the Air Force’s power and accuracy, as well as by the Iron Dome.”