The Israeli daily Jerusalem Post, published, according to Saudi Elaph newspaper a report saying that the new IDF Chief of staff Gen. Aviv Kochavi advocated toppling the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, but was rejected by Israel’s government, which preferred to deal with a known adversary.
Quoting an unnamed senior Israeli official, the Saudi Elaph newspaper said that Gen. Kochavi, then director of Military Intelligence, was in favor of removing the Syrian president from power by any means – even by assassination – due to his continues support of Hezbollah.
According to the report, Gen. Kochavi recommended removing the Assad’s government because “it would bring calamities to Israel from Iran, Hezbollah, the militias and Russian influence in the region”.
However the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, “wanted an address in Syria” – someone it could communicate with by back channels if need be.
The report quoted the Israeli official as saying that, The “prolonged conflict in Syria saw Israel often hold negotiations with the Damascus in order to reach an agreement in Syria”, adding that the diplomatic-security cabinet “held extensive discussions on the situation about Syria and decided that Israel would not allow an Iranian military presence there”.
The report stated that while Israel had several opportunities to target Assad and his top leaders during the eight-year long war in the country, the Israeli officials instead decided to focus on preventing Iranian entrenchment in the country by targeting Iranian and Hezbollah assets instead, “while making sure that Israel inflicts minimal damage to the Syrian government”.
The Israeli source told Elaph that recent discussions by the security cabinet on the Syrian situation have stressed that Israel will not accept any sort of Iranian military presence in Syria and “would do everything necessary to expel Iran from Syria, at any cost”.
Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon, from Tehran via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for Israel.
Working to prevent the entrenchment of Iranian forces and the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, the Israel Air Force has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria.
Back in October, the leaving IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot had an interview with the same Saudi newspaper “Elaph”.
Eisenkot told Elaph that the expansion of Iranian influence across the Middle East is a major concern to both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
“The Iranian plan is to control the Middle East by means of two Shiite crescents”, Eisenkot said, “the first being from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, and the second across the Gulf from Bahrain to Yemen to the Red Sea and we must stop that from happening”.
The Jerusalem post posted that “Last year, former Israeli housing Minister Yoav Galant called for Assad’s assassination following reports of the Syrians using a crematorium to hide its atrocities outside Damascus.
“The reality is that people are executed in Syria, being hit deliberately by chemical weapons, their bodies being burned – something we haven’t seen in 70 years.
We’re crossing a red-line and it is time to eliminate Assad, literally”.
Galant who was a major-general in the Israeli army and he’s a current member of the Israeli National Security Council – told an audience at the Second International Ground Warfare and Logistics Conference at Latrun, Jerusalem.
According to Galant, the major threat to Israel is Iran which wishes to open up a Shiite land bridge from Tehran through Iraq to Damascus in order to get to Israel.
“What is behind Syria is Hezbollah who is backed by Iran.
Iran is a danger to the security of the entire world. Iran is the problem, not the solution”, he said.
“The world needs to expel the Shiite monster and send it back to where it came from. When we get the tail of the snake, we can get the head in Tehran too”.