(May 9, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid growing tensions in Syria.
The trip comes just hours after Israel reportedly bombed a Syrian military site linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards south of Damascus, approximately 29 miles from the Israeli border, and just a day after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, based on evidence received from Israel.
At least nine soldiers, including members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and other pro-Iranian Shi’ite militiamen, were reported killed in the strike in al-Kiswah, an industrial area home to an army base.
Israeli authorities, warning of “abnormal movements of Iranian forces in Syria, ordered the opening of all bomb shelters in Israel’s northern Golan Heights, though residents have been encouraged to go about their daily lives as normal.
At the start his meeting with Putin, Netanyahu remarked on the commemoration of the Soviet Union’s victory against Nazi Germany, which is being marked in Russia on May 9 with a military parade in Red Square.
“It is difficult for me to describe to you the depth of my impression from that moving ceremony to mark the victory over Nazism,” Netanyahu told Putin. “We in Israel do not forget for a moment the great sacrifice of the Russian people and the Red Army in the victory over the Nazi monster.”
Netanyahu went on to say that: “It is unbelievable, but 73 years after the Holocaust, there is a country in the Middle East, Iran, that is calling for the destruction of anther six million Jews.”
“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,” he said.
Ahead of his trip to Moscow, Netanyahu said the meeting would be about “ensuring ongoing military cooperation in Syria.”
“Our meetings are always important, and this one is especially so. Given what is happening now in Syria, it is important to ensure the continued security cooperation between the Russian army and the Israel Defense Forces,” he said.
Reports indicate that additional Israeli reservists have been called up, though the IDF spokesperson’s unit would not elaborate. Media reports have suggested the troops are from air defense, Home Front Command and intelligence units.