A day after it was reported that he visited Jordan to coordinate an attack on President Bashar Assad's Syrian chemical weapons facilities, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "Everyone sees what is happening in Syria. The (Syrian) air force is bombing its own citizens and not refraining from using any means, including the use of weapons banned by international treaties."
Speaking at a graduation ceremony for Israel Air Force pilots at the Hatzerim air base in the Negev on Thursday, Netanyahu said Israel was "closely monitoring the developments in Syria and will do everything in its power to protect itself from this and any other threat."
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The PM said Israel's Air Force "is the most moral, and this is why the claims against the IDF and the Air Force regarding war crimes are so ridiculous and infuriating. While the Air Force does all it can to prevent harming civilians, our enemies are doing the opposite."
The premier told the graduates that they are now "part of the State of Israel's "long arm. We've strengthened many muscles and tendons in this arm. Israel's hand is extended in peace. Those who threaten us should know our long arm will strike forcefully to protect the State of Israel.
During the ceremony, Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke of his decision to quit politics. "This is apparently the last course I will address in my current role. The reality of our lives here puts security at the top of the list of priorities. Without it we cannot guarantee the future of the state. Many challenges lie ahead of us, and the IDF and Air Force will respond to all future challenges, from near and afar."
Addressing the recent operation in Gaza, Barak said the Air Force "has proven its might over the years, and it proved it yet again during Operation Pillar of Defense. Hamas was dealt a severe blow and was surprised by the Air Force's power and accuracy, as well as by the Iron Dome (missile defense system).
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