Report: Israel Considered, but Ultimately Nixed, Plan to Bomb Syrian Crematorium
Israel studied earlier this year the possibility of bombing a facility near the Syrian capital of Damascus — which, according to US intelligence, has been used by the Assad regime to burn the remains of executed prisoners — but ultimately decided against taking such an action, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.
“The debate in Israel saw many defense officials weigh in on the issue as it was clearly a moral rather than a national security deliberation,” the report said. “The idea was eventually shelved over Israel’s desire not to compromise its relations with the US and Russia, as well as over the defense establishment’s concerns that the move would trigger a rapid security escalation on the northern border.”
A senior Israeli official who took part in the decision-making process was quoted by Israel Hayom as saying, “A nation that lost millions of its people in crematoria cannot stand idly by when this is happening to another people and just a few dozen kilometers from our border, especially when the world remains silent, as it did 70 years ago.”
Since the civil war in Syria erupted in 2011, Israel has largely sought to remain neutral in the bloody conflict, which has drawn in many regional players. However, the IDF has responded with pinpoint strikes to occasional cross-border fire — both errant and intentional — in the Golan Heights and has reportedly targeted a number of Hezbollah-bound weapons convoys in Syria in recent years.
Israel has also provided medical treatment to thousands of people wounded in the fighting in Syria.
Recently, Israel has been publicly expressing its concerns about Iran’s ongoing bid to set up a permanent presence in Syria.
In August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Sochi for a sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the meeting, Netanyahu stated, “Iran is increasing its efforts to establish its military foothold in Syria. That is dangerous for Israel, the Middle East and, I believe, the whole world.”
“We are all defeating ISIS in a concerted international effort, and that is welcome,” Netanyahu went on to say. “What is not welcome is Iran moving in everywhere ISIS moves out. We do not forget for one minute that Iran continues to threaten Israel’s destruction every day; it is arming terrorist organizations and is itself instigating terrorism; and it is developing intercontinental missiles with the goal of arming them with nuclear warheads.”
“For all these reasons, Israel continues to oppose Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” the Israeli prime minister concluded. “We will defend ourselves in any way against this threat and any threat.”