Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
toured the Golan Heights Tuesday morning with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz
and GOC Northern Command Major-General Yair Golan.
Netanyahu received a briefing on developments of jihadi activities in Syria,
as well as Israel's work on border fortification.
During the Israeli leader's trip to the Golan Heights, he also made a visit to the field hospital where the IDF treats casualties from the civil war in Syria. Netanyahu said this humanitarian mission was the "true face of Israel."
Netanyahu and Gantz visitng the IDF field hospital (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO) Netanyahu examining a Syrian patient (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
Netanyahu took the opportunity to address the Israeli concern regarding the Iranian nuclear program: "On the day when talks between the major powers and Iran
are being opened in Vienna, it is important that the world sees the pictures from this place, which divides the good that is in the world from the bad."
leader chose to emphasize the difference between the Israeli government and the Iranian regime: "The good part is that Israel
is saving the lives of those who have been wounded in the daily slaughter that is being perpetrated in Syria. This is the true face of Israel. The bad part is that Iran is arming those who are carrying out the slaughter. This is the true face of Iran."
Netanyahu unequivocally blamed the government in Tehran for the enduring conflict, laying responsibility for the horrifying scenes on Iran. "All of the children who have been injured, to say nothing of those who have been killed, were injured as a result of Iran's arming, financing and training the Assad regime in the massacres that it is perpetrating," he said.
The advanced IDF field hospital, where doctors dress in military uniform, has many of the facilities expected of an urban hospital – an emergency room, an intensive care unit, an operating theater, an x-ray facility, a pharmacy, and a laboratory.
The base has treated over 700 patients from Syria, and patients are admitted based on need, not because of their allegiance to one side of the conflict. Netanyahu used the humanitarian location to stress his opposition to Iranian actions in the region.
"From here, I would like to tell the world, today, as the talks between the major powers and Iran are being resumed, that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character," said Netanyahu.
"Iran is continuing to support the Assad regime which is slaughtering its own people. This is the true face of Iran. The world cannot forget this," he added.
As part of his trip to Israel's north, Netanyahu visited Kiryat Shmona, shining a rare media spotlight on the impoverished city. The prime minister was honored by the Kiryat Shmona municipality, despite the politician's bumpy relationship with the city and its residents.
Netanyahu honored by Kiryat Shmona municipality (Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO) Netanyahu and former X-Factor contestant Eden Ben Zakan (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
At the ceremony, Netanyahu promised that in the future, a railway will connect Kiryat Shmona all the way down to Eilat and reminisced about a past in which the city was a vital strategic position for Israeli survival: "You are honored citizens of the Galilee and the State of Israel, you remember the tough days when we were less secure and you safeguarded this place, and you never gave up."
But the city's residents did not respond as positively. One resident said, "If the prime minister is honored by the city, then he needs to support us because we are living in fear. Any moment someone can launch a katyusha rocket at us; we live in poverty in Kiryat Shmona.
Another resident, David, said that he and his friends "are broke. People here have no work. They walk around aimlessly, there is nothing to do."
The lack of opportunity has made negative immigration a major problem in the impoverished northern city, as young residents move to other locales in pursuit of success.
Maor Buchnick and Roei Eisenberg contributed to this report.