Israeli leaders on Friday welcomed the “strong” and “important” message sent by the US strike on a Syrian regime airfield overnight.
The Israel Defense Forces said Friday it was informed by the US ahead of the military strike, which saw at least 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from two American naval destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean strike the Shayrat Airfield north of Damascus at approximately 4 a.m. local time Friday.
The IDF said in a statement it expressed support for the strike in talks with US officials.
The strike, ordered by US President Donald Trump, came as retaliation for a deadly chemical weapons attack Tuesday in the northern Syrian province of Idlib that left at least 86 people dead, including 27 children, and allegedly employed the nerve agent sarin. Footage of people and children choking on the gas prompted outrage across the globe.
The US and other Western powers have blamed the regime of Bashar Assad for the attack, but Damascus has denied it used chemical weapons.
In a statement released about three hours after the US strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the American move.
“In both word and action, President Trump sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated,” Netanyahu said in a statement by his office.
He added: “Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision and hopes that this message of resolve in the face of the Assad regime’s horrific actions will resonate not only in Damascus, but in Tehran, Pyongyang and elsewhere.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman called the Tomahawk missile strike “an important, necessary and moral message by the free world, led by the United States.”
The attack on the Syrian airfield shows that the world “will not tolerate the war crimes of the horrific regime of Bashar Assad,” Liberman said.
“The American update to the IDF and security establishment before the attack in Syria is further proof of the strength of the relationship and depth of the connection between Israel and its largest ally, the United States,” Liberman added.
President Reuven Rivlin said the US move was a “fitting response to such unthinkable brutality, and an example to the entire free world.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Friday also hailed the strike, saying it came at the “right time and in the right place.”
The strike “is an important message to the butcher from Damascus,” Herzog said on Twitter.
A string of high-level Israeli officials have condemned the Tuesday chemical attack and urged international action.
Recalling the Holocaust, Rivlin said on Tuesday evening that Israel cannot remain indifferent to the gassing of Syrian civilians, and offered to help survivors of the civil war there.
“We, as a people who survived the greatest of atrocities and rose from the ashes to be a strong and secure nation, we will do all we can to continue to aid the survivors of the horrors in Syria,” the president said in a statement. “We know all too well how dangerous silence can be, and we cannot remain mute.”
The president went on to urge the leaders of the world’s greatest powers to “act now, without delay, to stop these criminal, murderous acts taking place in Syria by the hand of the Assad regime, and to work urgently to remove all stockpiles of chemical weapons from Syrian territory.”
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon joined the call for Israel to take action and said Israel had the resources to do so.
“Genocide is going on in Syria,” Kahlon said. “The slaughter directed against children demands uncompromising action by the world for the destruction of the Assad regime.”
“Israel, the state of the Jewish people, must take moral responsibility and open its gates to treat children who are victims of genocide. Neither resources nor moral determination are lacking for this,” he said.
Also echoing the Jewish memory of the Holocaust, the chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, Avner Shalev, called on the world community to end the civil war in Syria.
“Following World War II, the global community enacted universal principles and instituted international organizations with the express purpose of averting future crimes against humanity,” Shalev said in a Thursday statement.
Shalev expressed “deep concern over the appalling evidence of renewed carnage in Syria and the images of massacred children in this turbulent area,” and called upon “world leaders and the global community to act now in order to put a stop to the atrocities and avert further suffering.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked urged US President Donald Trump to take action to stop the horror. “Syria’s use of chemical weapons has strategic connotations for Israel,” she added.
Meanwhile, a campaign by grassroots Israeli activists that has already raised $550,000 for Syrian children trapped in the country’s ongoing conflict urged direct Israeli action to protect civilians across its northern border.
“With the revelation of the latest horrors that continue to happen literally right next to us, it is time for the government to do something that is Israeli, Zionist and Jewish,” a Tuesday Facebook post by the ‘Just Beyond Our Border‘ campaign said.
Immediately after the US strike early Friday, Trump called for “all civilized nations” to work to end the bloodshed in Syria.
“On Tuesday, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” Trump said in a televised address from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“Tonight, I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” he said, adding, “Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed, and failed very dramatically.
“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” he said.
“We hope that as long as America stands for justice, then peace and harmony will in the end prevail.”