US/World News

Israeli minister: Syria strike repositioned America as regional leader

(JTA) – Adding to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s praise for the U.S. missile strikes on a Syrian army base, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister said it “restored America’s regional leadership in a big way.”

Yisrael Katz, the intelligence minister and a member of the Cabinet’s defense forum, spoke Friday, April 7 with Army Radio about the U.S. strike the previous night in which dozens of guided missiles were launched at an army base of forces loyal to President Bashar Assad. Earlier this week, his military was accused of using chemical weapons in attacking rebel-held areas. “There are things that only the No. 1 superpower in the world can do,” Katz said. “In contrast to the failed policy of leading from behind, which led to Iran’s entrenchment, the United States has restored America’s regional leadership in a big way in the Middle East.”

Also Friday, Netanyahu praised President Donald Trump in a statement that said Trump, “in both word and action,” had “sent a strong and clear message today that the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. Israel fully supports President Trump’s decision.” Israel, Netanyahu added, “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.”

U.S. defense officials “updated Israel in real time” about the strike, Katz also said.

According to the international media, Israel has carried out a number of military strikes in Syria before and during the civil war, primarily to keep advanced weapons from being moved or reaching Hezbollah, the pro-Iranian militia that is based in southern Lebanon and is committed to fighting Israel.

CAP: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen next to Transportation Minister Israel Katz at the weekly cabinet meeting at PM Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem on September 4, 2016. Katz came under fire from the Ultra Orthodox parties for wanting to allow work on the railway on Saturday. Photo by Hadas Parush/Flash90

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