(CNSNews.com) – Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Iran on Wednesday night not to put his country’s determination to confront its enemies to the test, a day after a senior aide to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed that Iran would respond to a missile strike on a Syrian airbase which it blames on Israel.
“I have a message to convey to the rulers of Iran,” he said. “Do not put the determination of the State of Israel to the test.”
Netanyahu also had a message for the Iranian people: “Israel is not your enemy. It is the tyrannical regime that oppresses you who’s the enemy.”
Netanyahu was speaking at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem as Israel began to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. In his address he compared the nuclear deal reached with Iran in 2015 to European attempts to appease Hitler in the run-up to World War II.
“A very radical regime threatens us and the safety of the entire world,” he told an audience of Holocaust survivors and families, officials and diplomats, speaking through a translator. “And this regime declares out in the open that it intends to annihilate the state of the Jewish people, to annihilate all of us,” he said.
“Some people delude themselves, just like what happened in Munich in 1938, that the agreement signed with the Iranian regime, this murderous regime, will stop its belligerence. Throughout history we’ve seen time and time again how agreements with regimes of this nature were not worth the paper they were written on.”
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied responsibility for an airstrike early Monday on an airbase in Homs province which, according to Iranian state media, killed seven Iranian military advisors.
Israel’s primary national security concern in the Syrian civil war is that Iran is using it to establish a powerful military presence in the country, adding to the threat Israel already faces from large numbers of missiles Iran has provided to its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah. Iran also supports Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.
On Tuesday, Khamenei’s advisor on international affairs, Ali Akbar Velayati, traveled to Damascus for consultations, and used the opportunity to warn Israel that the strike on the airbase would “not be left unanswered.”
Bashar al-Assad’s other main ally is Russia. President Vladimir Putin in a phone conversation with Netanyahu Wednesday stressed the importance of respecting Syria’s sovereignty and urged Israel to refrain from any action that could further destabilize the situation in the country, according to a Kremlin readout.
A brief statement by Netanyahu’s office about the phone call had a different emphasis, saying he had “reiterated that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria.”
The airstrike on the base occurred as the region braced for a possible U.S. military response to a deadly chemical weapons attack Saturday near Damascus, which Washington blames on the Assad regime.
Iran and Russia are backing its denial of responsibility for the attack in Douma, claiming it was a “false flag” or staged incident designed to discredit Assad and draw in U.S. military intervention.
In his speech Netanyahu referred to the chemical attack.
“The events of the last few days teach us that standing against evil and belligerence is a mission given to every generation,” he said. “We saw the Syrian children who were slaughtered with chemical weaponry. Our hearts were torn when we looked at the atrocities.”
Netanyahu said a major lesson learned since the Holocaust is that “murderous evil” which is not confronted “expands very rapidly and gradually threatens the entire humanity.”