Israel urges end to Syria bloodshed, offers aid

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 04, 2012 1:14 PM
Israel urges end to Syria bloodshed, offers aid

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel offered on Sunday to assist international efforts to provide humanitarian aid to Syria without intervening directly in the bloody conflict enveloping its neighboring enemy.

Calling the bloodshed of President Bashar el-Assad's efforts to crush a year-old uprising in Syria "more shocking than the worst horror movies in Hollywood," Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also urged greater world efforts to end the violence.

"In Israel we think it is essential to stop this violence and we are ready to supply any humanitarian aid necessary," Lieberman told Israel's Army Radio in an interview, but stressed Israel would not act independently in this regard.

Israel proposed to pass aid to Syria via the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Lieberman's ministry said in a statement. The Geneva-based humanitarian agency has been trying to send supplies to the embattled Syrian city of Homs.

Israel and Syria have been enemies since the Jewish state was established in 1948 and have fought several wars as part of a dispute over land Israel captured in a 1967 war.

"We need to set all political considerations aside," Lieberman said. "What is happening there, in the 21st century, is intolerable. We must render assistance."

"Whatever is necessary, whatever will be asked of us we can provide."

Israel had long avoided taking sides publicly on the crisis in Syria, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned what he called "criminal massacres against innocent civilians in Syria" in remarks to Israel's cabinet last week.

Lieberman said he expected Netanyahu would discuss the subject of Syria in his talks on Monday in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama which are expected to focus on Iran's nuclear program which Israel sees as a real threat.

Lieberman, an ultranationalist, said the inability of the world community to stop the bloodletting in Syria raised questions as to how much Israel itself could rely on foreign pledges of support.

"The question arises that if the entire world cannot end the terrible massacre, the bloodshed, what is the value of all the promises of the world community to Israel that they will guarantee our security?" Lieberman asked.

(Writing by Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Editing by Sophie Hares)