'We should have operated in Syria ages ago'

Opposition MK says Israel should have intervened in Syria's civil war years ago, admits that his opinion is only with benefit of hindsight.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ofer Shelah
Ofer Shelah
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Security Cabinet member MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) responded on Facebook to the recent events in Syria.

"In 2012, then-IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz told me in a private conversation, 'One day we will need to account to ourselves what we did during the time that, across the border, people were being massacred,'" Shelah wrote.

"He, and the politicians who were above him, thought that any Israeli intervention in the events in Syria - other than the red lines which were set then and are still relevant now, and which pertain to Israel's obvious security interests - will not do any good, and may do bad. There was a completely understandable resistance to involving Israel in the civil war across the border. I admit, I thought the same.

"Today I am convinced that we should have acted. We should have banned flights, because only Assad's murderous planes were flying in Syria's skies back then. We should have done everything diplomatically possible, we should have declared that we would protect the civilians' flight routes. There was no lack of ideas back then, either. And I admit, again, I thought differently. Or maybe I didn't think enough."

Shelah also emphasized that Israel is not responsible for the massacre, but should have done something.

"It needs to be clear: Bashar al-Assad is the only one responsible for murdering over half a million of his people, while he receives protection from patrons in Moscow and Tehran. And Israel, first of all, has an obligation to protect its citizens and borders. I believe that war must be a last resort. But war isn't the only way to act, and Israel is not a regular country," he said.

"Therefore, I added Section 15 into Yesh Atid's security policy. [This section states] that Israel, the country of the Jewish nation, has an historical obligation to do the best it can to prevent murder and other crimes against humanity. I therefore believe that today, when Russia is in Syria, and the civil war seems to be coming to an end, this needs to be something we take into consideration. We don't need to do populist things like make announcements that we need to kill Assad. But diplomatically and via other avenues, there are things which can be done. The day Gantz spoke about arrived already - a long time ago."

On Sunday night, a military airbase belonging to the Assad regime near the Syrian city of Homs was hit with missiles. Local media reported that fourteen people, including Iranian citizens, were killed in the strike.

The Russian army claims that two Israeli planes carried out the attack, and Syrian local media supports the Russian claim.



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