hree days after Syria downed a Russian fighter jet after Israel hit a military installation near Latakia, President Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that Israel will continue to take preemptive action when needed. He spoke at a memorial ceremony in Jerusalem for the fallen of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Citing a recently de-classified cable from then Mossad head Zvi Zamir warning of an imminent Syrian and Egyptian attack just a few hours before the Yom Kippur war 45 years ago, Netanyahu said that the decision to take a preemptive strike is an extremely difficult decision for any government to make. Golda Meir’s government did not take that decision in 1973.
“The lessons of that campaign are engraved in us today,” he said of the Yom Kippur War, “We uncompromisingly guard the security interests of our country. We are constantly scanning the horizon to diagnose, with a critical eye, the dangers that lie ahead, as well as the opportunities. We must do everything to prevent war, but if it comes, we will act with full force against those who want to kill us.”
Iran, he said, is leading those in the region seeking to destroy Israel, and its leaders call openly for Israel’s destruction.
“It is our obligation to protect ourselves from this danger,” he said. “We will continue to do so.”
Israel has defended its strikes against Iranian and Syrian military targets as preemptive, in the sense that it will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, nor transfer strategic weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“Today the Middle East is full of dangers as well as rays of light,” he said. “Our relations with the moderate Arab world have taken an unprecedented turn. Moderate countries are increasingly understanding the value of relations with Israel. It may take some time, but I believe that this gradual convergence will yield significant fruits of normalization and eventually to peace as well.”