Lawmakers urge Israel to bomb alleged Syria crematorium
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Deri: Our top priority on Trump visit should be to urge US action against Assad

Lawmakers urge Israel to bomb alleged Syria crematorium

Opposition MKs, interior minister, Jewish groups recall inaction during the Holocaust in demanding military action to stop Assad atrocities

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A satellite image of what the US State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium, January 15, 2015. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
A satellite image of what the US State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium, January 15, 2015. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)

Opposition lawmakers on Monday called on Israel to destroy the Damascus-area crematorium that Syrian President Bashar Assad is allegedly using to burn the bodies of thousands of executed political prisoners.

Some government ministers also urged action, but said that it was the responsibility of the United States, which made the allegations on Monday.

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid wrote in a Facebook post that Israel has a “moral responsibility to act when within striking distance of the IDF people are being burnt. We have to wipe that crematorium off the face of the earth.”

Lapid drew parallels between the world’s failure to protect Jews during World War II and the international community’s failure to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

“Why did the world know [what was happening], but not do anything? Well now we know, and we’re not doing anything,” he said.

Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting in the Knesset on May 8, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid leads a faction meeting in the Knesset on May 8, 2017. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

“Chemical weapons & incinerators – both the crematorium and Assad must go. Echoing past horrors, he cannot be a part of the region’s future,” Zionist Union lawmaker Tzipi Livni tweeted Monday.

Interior Minister and Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri also called for the Assad crematorium to be bombed, but urged the US to carry out the strike.

“Call him Hitler, call him whatever you like, he is doing the same things,” Deri told Army Radio. “He’s a murderer, a child killer.”

Deri said urging US President Donald Trump to take military action against the Assad regime during his trip to Israel next week should top Israel’s list of priorities for the visit.

In the US, The head of the Anti-Defamation League also drew parallels between Syria’s alleged use of a crematorium to dispose of bodies to actions committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the group’s national director, also called on the international community, including Russia, to take action to stop the violence perpetuated by the Syrian government under the leadership of President Bashar Assad.

Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 (SANA via AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks during an interview with Yahoo News in Damascus, Syria, Friday, Feb. 10, 2017 (SANA via AP)

“As Jews, we are particularly shocked by the extreme brutality of the Syrian regime, which invokes the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people,” Greenblatt said Tuesday in a statement. “The world learned from the twentieth century that it did not do enough to stop the crimes of the Nazis which led to the genocide of six million Jews.

Earlier on Tuesday, Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant accused Assad of carrying out a “genocide,” and called for the Syrian leader to be assassinated.

“The reality of the situation in Syria is that they are executing people, using directed chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme — burning their corpses, something we haven’t seen in 70 years,” Galant said, in a reference to the Holocaust.

“In my view, we are crossing a red line. And in my view, the time has come to assassinate Assad. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on April 9, 2017. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri arrives to the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on April 9, 2017. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool)

The Trump administration on Sunday accused the Syrian government of carrying out mass killings of thousands of prisoners and burning the bodies in a large crematorium outside of the capital.

The State Department said it believed that about 50 detainees a day are being hanged at Saydnaya military prison, about 45 minutes north of Damascus. Many of the bodies, it said, are then burned in the crematorium.

The department released commercial satellite photographs showing what it described as a building in the prison complex that was modified to support the crematorium. The photographs, taken over the course of several years, beginning in 2013, do not definitely prove the building is a crematorium, but they show construction consistent with such use.

It has been argued that bombing the Auschwitz concentration camp — where over 1 million Jews and other victims of Nazi Germany were gassed to death and their bodies cremated — might have slowed the pace of the killings.

But military historians have long asserted that airstrikes on Nazi concentration and extermination camps would have been impossible for the Allied powers before the summer of 1943.

This image provided by the State Department and DigitalGlobe, taken Aug. 27, 2013, left, and April 16, 2015, satellite images of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)
This image provided by the State Department and DigitalGlobe, taken Aug. 27, 2013, left, and April 16, 2015, satellite images of what the State Department described as a building in a prison complex in Syria that was modified to support a crematorium. (State Department/DigitalGlobe via AP)

The anti-Defamation League said the State Department revelations “invoke the worst nightmares of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people” and called on the international community to “to put an end to the inhumane actions of the Syrian government.”

The Syrian war has killed as many as 400,000 people since 2011. It has contributed to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and enabled the Islamic State jihadist group to emerge as a global terror threat.

Judah Ari Gross and AP contributed to this report.

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