Netanyahu: Nonconventional weapons in the hands of terrorists would be regional game changer. Stopping militants from obtaining such weapons is “in other countries’ interest as well.”
By Israel Hayom Staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel “has a right to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands in Syria.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talking with the BBC on Thursday. – Photo: BBC screenshot
In a special interview with the BBC, given during an official visit by the prime minister to London, where he attended former British Premier Margaret Thatcher’s funeral and also met with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Netanyahu said that should terror groups in Syria, especially Hezbollah and al-Qaida, manage to seize anti-aircraft and chemical weapons “it could be a game changer” in the Middle East.
Syria began developing agents for use in nonconventional weapons, including sarin, tabun, VX, and mustard gas, in the mid-1980s, with the help of the Soviets. Both Israel and the United States have expressed concern that the civil war that has been raging in Syria since March 2011 will leave the regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons vulnerable to both rebel and terror groups.
Israel maintains that its policy is not to get involved in the Syrian conflict, but in recent months the Israel Defense Forces has retaliated when cross-border fire from Syria hit Israeli targets. Asked what Israel was particularly concerned with, Netanyahu said that “the question is which rebels and which weapons?”
“The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria — these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers,” he said.
“They will change the conditions, the balance of power in the Middle East. They could present a terrorist threat on a worldwide scale. It is definitely our interest to defend ourselves, but we also think it is in the interest of other countries.”
Asked if Israel would consider more aggressive military action against Syria if cases of cross-border fire persist, Netanyahu said: “We are not aggressive. We don’t seek military confrontation, but we are prepared to defend ourselves if the need arises and I think people know that what I say is both measured and serious.”
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