Time Has Come to Assassinate Assad, Senior Israeli Minister Says

  • Housing Minister cites reports of fresh atrocities in Syria
  • Yoav Gallant was IDF major general responsible for Gaza front

A Syrian woman walks past a placard bearing a portrait of President Bashar al-Assad.

Photographer: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

President Bashar al-Assad should be eliminated to stop the atrocities taking place in Syria, according to an Israeli minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant, a retired major general who led the Israel Defense Forces’s southern command, which includes the Gaza Strip, pointed to U.S. allegations that the Assad regime built a crematorium at a prison outside Damascus to cover up mass murders. The Syrian government has denied the U.S. claim. When asked who Gallant thinks should do the killing, his spokeswoman declined to elaborate.

Israeli Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant

Miriam Tzachi

“The reality of the situation today in Syria, in which they are executing people, using chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme measure -- burning their corpses, something which we haven’t seen in 70 years in this world -- we’re crossing a red line,” Gallant said Tuesday at a military conference in Israel. “In my opinion, it’s time to eliminate Assad.”

After cutting off what he described as “the snake’s tail,” then “we’ll be able to get to its head, which sits in Tehran,” Gallant said.

The comments -- among the strongest by any member of the Israeli government -- highlight growing pressure from U.S. allies in the Middle East to confront Assad and his main regional backer, Iran, as U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to visit the region next week. Israel for now has stayed clear of large-scale intervention in Syria, preferring to target weapons passing through the country en route to the Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. It also has struck back at Assad’s army in southern Syria when shells land in the Israeli-controlled territories of the Golan Heights.

Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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