Netanyahu: Israel's 'Long Arm' Will Strike Those Who Threaten It

At Air Force graduation event, PM says Israel will stop at nothing to defend itself against Syrian threats, makes veiled threat against Iran; speech comes after reports of secret meeting with Jordan's king over Syria.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking Thursday at the Air Force's pilot graduation ceremony made military threatened Iran and Syria, saying that Israel's 'long arm' will strike forcefully against threats against it.

"We can all see what is happening in Syria," the prime minister said at the graduation event, adding that the Syrian air force is harming hundreds of Syrian civilians and will stop at nothing, even methods banned by international conventions.

"Israel is following developments in Syria and will do whatever it takes to defend itself against any threat," Netanyahu said.

The prime minister's speech came one day after reports of a secret meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan over the worsening crisis in Syria, and the possibility of Israel taking action against that country's chemical weapons network.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday that Israel "is following dramatic developments in Syria, cooperating with the U.S. and the international community, and taking the necessary steps to prepare for the possibility of radical changes to the regime with all the consequences these may hold for its network of sensitive weapons."

Netanyahu also spoke at Thursday's graduation event about the lull his party is suffering in the polls ahead of the elections on January 22, and continued intensifying the tone of his statements as part of his defense-based campaign.

In his speech, the prime minister also made a veiled threat against Iran.

"Today you are becoming part of the long arm of the state of Israel," Netanyahu told the newly graduated pilots. "We have strengthened many muscles and tendons of this arm. Israel's hand is offered in peace to those who are poised for peace, and those who threaten us, both near and far, they should know that our long arm will strike with force in order to protect Israel."  

Benjamin Netanyahu. He dredges up problems due to fears he won’t win the election.Credit: Reuters
Netanyahu with Defense Minister Barak after the Air Force graduation event, December 27, 2012. Credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry