Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz levels harsh criticism of Russia´s
seemingly complicit role in the Syrian uprising: "Best case, this is
irresponsibility, and worst case, it is a partnership in the
slaughter" • Netanyahu: Iran, Hezbollah actively assisting Syrian
regime • Peres: I respect the Syrian opposition and I hope it wins.
Following yet another brutal massacre in Syria over the weekend,
Israeli leaders came out in force on Sunday calling for international
action to be taken to stop the slaughter and offering Israeli
humanitarian aid to be provided for Syrian victims. One top official
even went as far as to blame Russia for its "irresponsible" role in
backing the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened the weekly cabinet meeting
on Sunday with a statement on Syria. "There is a massacre going on in
Syria. A massacre of civilians, including of children and the
elderly, being carried out by the Syrian government with the backing
of Iran and Hezbollah. The world needs to see this concentrated axis
of evil. The face of this axis has been revealed in all its ugliness
and everyone should see the sort of neighborhood we live in.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Israel Radio on Sunday that
Israel will offer humanitarian aid to Syrian citizens, including food
and medicine as well as treatment for the wounded who come in via
Jordan. Ayalon noted that Israel was not in contact with the Syrian
opposition but maintains ongoing communication with the Red Cross and
other aid organizations.
Ayalon added that the situation in Syria had gone "completely out of
control" as a result of the "indifferent attitude and lack of
leadership" in the international community. Ayalon called the
conflict a "fight to the death" and that the ousting of Assad would
not necessarily solve the problem.
"Without large contingents of U.N. troops, it will not be possible to
stop the Syrian people´s suffering," he said.
Vice Prime Minister and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz called the Syrian
government´s killings "a crime against humanity," adding
that "genocide is being conducted in Syria today. And the silence of
the world powers is contrary to all human logic."
Foreign powers were "making do with flaccid condemnation" rather than
intervening to overthrow Assad, Mofaz said.
"Worse than that is the Russian conduct, which tacitly condemns the
slaughter while continuing to arm Assad´s murderous regime. Best
case, this is irresponsibility, and worst case, it is a partnership
in the slaughter," Mofaz said.
"We need to enlist the West. We need our voice to be heard. This
slaughter is being carried out not far from Israel´s border. We
cannot get involved, for understandable reasons. But I think that the
West, led by the United States, has an interest in guarding the
threshold (so) genocide does not take place."
President Shimon Peres on Sunday told Army Radio that the
international community was not doing nearly enough.
"We are all humans. Who can stay indifferent at the sight of such a
massacre, images of the children in little coffins and screaming
mothers. No one is listening; the world is giving itself too much
leeway," he said. Peres commended the Syrian rebels´ bravery in
protesting in the face of gunfire, "I hope they win."
Kadima MK and former deputy Shin Bet chief Yisrael Hasson on Sunday
called for an immediate humanitarian corridor in the Golan Heights
for Syrian civilians "who are being massacred."
"How will we look at ourselves when this is all over, when we ask
ourselves where were we when civilians were being murdered? My
expectations from the international community are very low, but we
must wake the world to action. There is nothing more moral than
personal example. After a year of massacre, I expected Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to try to do something to help the Syrian people,"
Hasson told Israel Radio.
On Saturday, Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara said Israel was ready to
provide assistance to those wounded by the Syrian regime.
“Israel is ready to receive casualties who are evacuated from Syria
to Israel, and alternatively we are ready to send medical assistance
through Jordan,” deputy cabinet minister Ayoub Kara told Israel
Radio. Kara, a member of the Israeli Druze minority, said some
Israeli doctors are on the Syrian-Turkish border treating victims of
the Syrian violence.
Meanwhile, on the ground in Syria, bullets and artillery shells
filled the sky in Damascus overnight as troops battled rebels in the
streets, a show of boldness for rebels taking their fight against
Assad to the center of his power.
For nearly 12 hours of fighting that lasted into the early hours
Saturday, rebels armed mainly with assault rifles fought Syrian
forces in the heaviest fighting in the Assad stronghold since the
uprising began 15 months ago. U.N. observers said rebels fired a
rocket-propelled grenade at a local power plant, damaging parts of it
and reducing six buses to charred shells, according to video the
observers took of the scene.
Syrian forces showed the regime´s willingness to unleash such
firepower in the capital: At least three tank shells slammed into
residential areas in the central Damascus neighborhood of Qaboun, an
activist said. Intense exchanges of assault-rifle fire marked the
clash, according to residents and amateur video posted online.
At least 52 civilians were killed around the country outside Damascus
on Saturday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a
Britain-based activist group. Among them were 20, including nine
women and children, who died in heavy, pre-dawn shelling in the
southern city of Daraa, where the uprising against Assad began in
March 2011. Six children were among 10 killed by a shell that
exploded in a house in which they were taking cover during fierce
fighting in the coastal region of Latakia, the group said.
The group´s figures could not be independently confirmed.
In a Daraa mosque, a father stood over his son killed in the
shelling, swaddled in a blanket in a hooded sweater, amateur video
showed. "I will become a suicide bomber!" the father shouted in grief.
Another video showed tens of thousands of Daraa residents burying
their slain victims later Saturday — singing, dancing and parading
the dead in coffins around a large square and giving the mass funeral
the appearance of a mass wedding party.
The Damascus violence was a dramatic shift; the capital has been
relatively quiet compared with other Syrian cities throughout the
uprising. Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, the country´s
largest, are under the firm grip of security forces.
The rebels´ brazenness in the Damascus districts underscored deep-
seated Sunni anger against the regime, with residents risking their
safety, and potentially their lives, to shelter the fighters.
Residents burned tires to block the advance of Syrian troops, sending
plumes of smoke into the air, amateur video showed.
Urban Sunni Syrians had once mostly stayed at arms´ length from their
mostly rural compatriots leading the uprising, fearing the
instability that their leaderless, chaotic movement would bring.
But it appears a series of massacres of mainly Sunni peasants over
the past few weeks have tipped some of their urban brethren in favor
of the uprising. One rebel supporter in Qaboun said the recent mass
killings made people see rebel fighters more as protectors against
"The regime has forced the rebels into the city. When they commit
attacks, or massacres, or arrests, they come in to defend residents,"