In his first public comments regarding the US withdrawal from Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Thursday “strongly condemning” the Turkish military action and offering humanitarian assistance to the Kurds.
“Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies,” he said. “Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”
Israeli officials indicated that Israel was willing to render any non-military aid the Kurds might need, though they would not be more specific.
Earlier in the day, at the 46th annual Yom Kippur War memorial service, Netanyahu did not mention US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria but seemed to have it in mind when he said that Israel can ultimately only rely on itself.
“We do not aspire to be ‘a nation that dwells alone,’ but that is how we were forced to stand at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War,” he said, noting that American assistance arrived only toward the end of the war. “As in 1973, also we very much appreciate the United States’ important support, which has greatly increased over the years, and also the United States’ enormous economic pressure it is exerting on Iran.”
But, Netanyahu added, “We always remember and apply the basic principle that guides us: Israel will defend itself, by itself, against any threat.”
Netanyahu said that the IDF is prepared – offensively and defensively – to deal with any threat, and has the “overwhelming power” to do so. He said this power includes firepower and the spirit of the people, which is something inherited from the Yom Kippur War generation.
The prime minister said that the current focal point of aggression in the region is Iran, which is constantly arming itself, has recently downed an American drone and attacked Saudi oil facilities, and threatens constantly to “wipe us off the map.”
“Time after time, Iran tries to attack us, and therefore we must stand ready to protect ourselves against this danger,” he said.
Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, who serves under President Tayyip Erdogan, slammed Netanyahu on social media for offering to assist the Kurds.
“Empty words of a disgraced politician looking at many years in prison on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges,” Altun tweeted. “The Syrian Kurds, including the 300,000 exiles in Turkey, are under Turkish protection. We will eliminate all terrorists in the area and help Syrians return home.”
US Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voiced his agreement with Netanyahu on Twitter.
“Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria attacking one of America’s most reliable allies – the Kurds – is a nightmare for the US and Israel,” he said.