Yerushalayim (Ilana Messika/TPS) – Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Galant called on Tuesday for the elimination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad following reports by the US State Department that Assad had built and used a crematorium at the Saydnaya military prison in Damascus.
Speaking at the International Conference on Land Warfare and Logistics at the Armored Corps Memorial in Latrun, Galant said: “In a reality in which Syria executes people, deliberately uses chemical weapons on them and now in the latest bout of extremism burns their bodies, something that has not been seen throughout the world in 70 years, a red line has been crossed and as far as I am concerned, it is time to take out Assad. Literally and with all that it implies.”
According to Galant, Israel should not stop at the neutralization of the Syrian president, but should go all the way to Iran. “When we are done with the snake’s tail, we will be able to reach its head in Tehran and take care of it as well. The State of Israel knows how to defend itself on its own, but we always need to remember that we have friends and allies.”
Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid also wrote on social media: “For more than 70 years, we have been asking the world why it did not bother to bomb the crematoriums in Auschwitz. Why was the crematorium in the Mauthausen camp, where my grandfather’s body became ashes, not burnt? Why did the world know and do nothing? And now we know and do nothing.”
“The State of Israel has a moral duty to act when people are being burnt within range of the IDF’s striking capability,” Lapid continued. “We have to erase this crematorium from the face of the earth.”
On Monday, the US State Department published on its website an on-the-record briefing about Syria with Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Stuart Jones. While addressing the reported extrajudicial killings in the Saydnaya military prison for civilian detainees and opponents of the government, Jones claimed the US had reason to believe the regime had erected a crematorium at the site to remove traces of the killings.
“The regime holds as many as 70 prisoners in Saydnaya in cells that have a five-person capacity […] [and is reportedly] responsible for killing as many as 50 detainees per day at Saydnaya,” Jones contended. “Credible sources believe that many of the bodies have been disposed in mass graves.”
“Beginning in 2013, the Syrian regime modified a building within the Saydnaya complex to support what we believe is a crematorium, as shown in the photos that we have distributed to you,” Jones continued. “Although the regime’s many atrocities are well documented, we believe that the building of a crematorium is an effort to cover up the extent of mass murders taking place in Saydnaya prison.”
According to an Amnesty International report in February 2017, between 5,000 and 11,000 people have been extrajudicially executed between September 2011 and December 2015 in Saydnaya, a site the report described as a “human slaughterhouse.”
Jones presented photos of the site dating from 2013 to 2017 and argued that “the HVAC [heating and ventilation] facilities, the discharge stack, the probable firewall, the probable air intake” of the new building’s construction phase are consistent with the structure of a crematorium.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denying the allegations.