Netanyahu tells Putin: Iran wants to carry out another Holocaust

In Moscow to meet Russian leader, prime minister says regional crisis must be solved ‘in a prudent and responsible manner’

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 9, 2018. (AFP/Sergei Ilnitsky)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 9, 2018. (AFP/Sergei Ilnitsky)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday that Iran is seeking to commit another Holocaust by exterminating six million more Jews amid spiraling tensions between Jerusalem and Tehran.

Ahead of talks Wednesday in Moscow, Netanyahu urged that the Middle Eastern regional crisis be resolved in “a responsible manner.”

Netanyahu had earlier attended Russia’s annual Victory Day Parade, which this year marked 73 years since the Red Army defeat of Nazi Germany. The prime minister was one of two foreign leaders who attended the event, during which the Russian army also showcased military equipment used to defend the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. The other foreign leader present was Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.

“We in Israel don’t forget for a moment the tremendous sacrifice by the Russian people and the sacrifice of the Red Army in defeating the Nazi monster,” Netanyahu said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) take part in the Immortal Regiment march in downtown Moscow on May 9, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Alexey DRUZHININ)

“We don’t forget the great lesson of the need to face murderous ideology in time. It is hard to believe, but 73 years after the Holocaust there is a country in the Middle East, Iran, that is calling for the destruction of six million Jews.

The meeting with Putin came amid spiraling tensions between Israel and Iran, and the day after US President Donald Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of a landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

“The difference is that today we have a state and I very much appreciate the opportunity to discuss regional problems with you, the attempts as you put it, to resolve the crises, to lift the threats in a prudent and responsible manner,” Netanyahu said.

“I am very moved that you invited me to this procession as the prime minister of Israel, as the head of the Jewish state, and that you mentioned the Holocaust of the Jews today. It is another testimony to the deep connection between our two people, and I thank you for that,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu arrived in Moscow for urgent talks at the Kremlin about Iran’s attempt to establish itself militarily in Syria. Russia is a staunch ally of both Tehran and Damascus, and has condemned Israeli airstrikes on Iranian and Syrian targets in Syria.

Jerusalem has vowed to prevent Iran from establishing forward bases on Syrian territory that could be used for missile attacks on Israel, and to keep advanced weapons and rockets from reaching Tehran’s proxy, the Hezbollah terror group in neighboring Lebanon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after the Victory Parade marking the 73th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

On Tuesday evening, the Israeli army urged Golan Heights residents to ready bomb shelters and put its air defenses on high alert, after having detected “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria.”

Later Israel reportedly bombed a military site linked to Iranian fighters south of Damascus, killing pro-Iranian fighters in an area previously identified as the site of a suspected Iranian military base, according to local sources.

Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel is believed to have repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group backing it inside the country.

On Sunday night, Israeli defense officials warned that Iran was planning to retaliate for some recent deadly airstrikes in Syria by having its proxies fire missiles at military targets in northern Israel sometime in the near future.

The airstrikes have escalated tensions between Israel and Iran leading to increasingly belligerent statements from leaders in both countries.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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