Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the Syrian regime is carrying out a massacre of civilians, as reports surfaced that some 100 people had been killed there over the weekend.
"We see horrid pictures of children and the elderly," Netanyahu said during the weekly cabinet meeting.
"The massacre is not only carried out by the Syrian government, but is also aided by Iran and Hezbollah," Netanyahu said. "The world must see this axis of evil so everyone would understand in what world we live in."
Earlier Sunday, Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of committing genocide during his crackdown on a 15-month uprising.
Mofaz also criticized Russia for arming Damascus and repeated Israel's demand for international military intervention to topple Assad, akin to last year's campaign in Libya.
Israel has until recently been slow to call for Assad's fall, wary of worsening the turmoil in Syria - the two countries are enemies but have been in a mostly stable stand-off for decades.
With hourly media reports in Israel of Syrian civilian deaths, public anger has been growing and Israeli officials have been stepping up their criticism.
"A crime against humanity, genocide, is being conducted in Syria today. And the silence of the world powers is contrary to all human logic," said Mofaz during an interview on Army Radio.
Foreign powers were "making do with flaccid condemnation" rather than intervening to overthrow Assad, he added.
"Worse than that is the Russian conduct, which weakly condemns the slaughter while continuing to arm Assad's murderous regime. Best-case, this is irresponsibility, and worst-case, it is a partnership in the slaughter," Mofaz said.
A longtime Syrian ally, Russia opposes outside intervention against Assad. Moscow has denied supporting any side in the conflict or providing arms that could be used in a civil war.
Mofaz said Israel had limited options on Syria, but urged the West to step in to stop the mass killings.
"We cannot get involved, for understandable reasons. But Ithink that the West, led by the United States, has an interestin guarding the threshold [so] genocide does not take place."
President Shimon Peres also commened on the situation in Syria and said he hoped Syrian rebels would win in the ongoing conflict with Assad forces, in an interview broadcast Sunday.
He told Israel Radio that the world was not doing enough to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
"There are more and more murders every day and it is an unprecedented scandal. I have a lot of respect for the rebels who go out every day to demonstrate opposite live ammunition, and I hope they will win," he said.
A longtime Syrian ally, Russia opposes outside intervention against Damascus. Moscow has denied supporting any side in the conflict or providing arms that could be used in a Syrian civil war.
Russia says it would be open to Assad's exit from power as long as it was a result of an inclusive political process among Syrians.
Mofaz, a former top general and political centrist who joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative coalition government last month, said Israel had limited options on Syria but had to lobby for international action.
"We need to enlist the West. We need our voice to be heard. This slaughter is being carried out not far from Israel's border," he said.
"We cannot get involved, for understandable reasons. But I think that the West, led by the United States, has an interest in guarding the threshold (so) genocide does not take place."
Speaking separately on Israel Radio, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said the Netanyahu government was prepared to help Syrians who take refuge in Jordan and other countries with ties to Israel.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Syrian troops shelled the restive province of Homs, an opposition group reported.
The troops were also using heavy weapons in attacking several areas in Homs, which is a key opposition stronghold, added the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 35 civilians were killed in the onslaught as reconnaissance planes were seen flying over the area, said the organization.
Dozens of protesters were killed in Syria over the weekend, as clashes reached Damascus. For nearly 12 hours of fighting that lasted into the early hours Saturday, rebels armed mainly with assault rifles fought Syrian forces in the heaviest fighting in the Assad stronghold since the 15-month-old uprising began.
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