Israel on Wednesday expressed outrage over suspected chemical attack in Syria that killed at least 58 civilians, saying it is a “stain on all humanity” and the world must act to rid the country of chemical weapons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the international community “to fulfill its obligation from 2013 to fully and finally remove these horrible weapons from Syria”. “When I saw pictures of babies suffocating from a chemical attack in Syria, I was shocked and outraged. There’s no, none, no excuse whatsoever for the deliberate attacks on civilians and on children, especially with cruel and outlawed chemical weapons,” Netanyahu said at a memorial service in Jerusalem.
President Reuven Rivlin described the incident as a “stain on all humanity” stating that the horrors of Holocaust compels Israel “not to remain mute” to such actions. “The pictures we are seeing today from Syria and the reports of the massacre of children, of civilians, with chemical weapons, are a stain on all humanity. The international community in its entirety must come together to bring an end to this murderous madness, and ensure that such scenes will never be repeated anywhere,” Rivlin said.
“I call on the leaders of the international community -and among them the leading powers – to act now, without delay, to stop these criminal, murderous acts taking place in Syria by the hand of the (Bashar) Assad regime, and to work urgently to remove all stockpiles of chemical weapons from Syrian territory,” Rivlin said.
The Syrian Coalition, an opposition group based outside the Syrian territory, alleged that the Assad government planes carried out the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun, south of the city of Idlib, the provincial capital. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the government warplanes released “toxic gas” in the town, a charge the regime denied.
A British doctor at the scene reportedly tweeted that the chemical released was Sarin gas. Under the threat of a US bombardment, the Assad regime in 2013 had agreed to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons. Human rights groups have accused the Assad-led government of deploying chemical weapons against its own people to maintain control.
Israel has generally tried to stay out of the Syrian civil war, though it has reportedly carried out a series of airstrikes to thwart weapons transfers to the Shi’ite Hizbullah group based out of Lebanon that has been fighting alongside Assad’s forces. Israel has also not taken in any Syrian refugees but has treated thousands of wounded who managed to cross the borders into the Golan Heights.