'Israel Must Secure Its Existence,' Merkel Says on Syria Airstrikes

German chancellor told Israeli radio she understands concern over Iran, which has 'policies that are threatening to Israel'

File photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, October 4, 2018.
Oded Balilty/AP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday expressed understanding for Israel's concern over Iran, saying it was "important and right" for Israel to represent its security interests.

"Iran has policies that are threatening to Israel, that's correct," said Merkel in an interview aired on Israeli radio on Sunday in light of Holocaust Memorial Day

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Regarding Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in neighbouring Syria, Merkel said: "Israel must secure its existence, and the situation in Syria is naturally also very threatening for Israel." 

"That's also why we're working to ensure, for example, that no Iranian forces can come near the Golan Heights," she added. Merkel has discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, Israel had targeted Iranian forces inside Syria with heavy strikes. The Israeli army said at the time that the strikes were in response to a rocket fired at the northern Golan Heights last Sunday.

The Israeli air force has repeatedly struck targets in Syria in order to prevent arch-enemy Iran from establishing a sustained military presence. Besides Russia, Iran is one of Syrian President Bashar Assad's closest allies in the ongoing civil war in Syria.