The incoming IDF Chief of Staff, Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, reportedly was in favor of getting rid of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, by assassination if necessary, according to Saudi Arabia’s Elaph newspaper.
The paper quoted an unnamed senior Israeli military source, who said that Kochavi, then director of Military Intelligence, believed that Assad’s support for the terrorist organization Hezbollah justified his ouster by any means.
Kochavi was quoted as saying that the continued existence of the Assad regime “would bring calamities to Israel from Iran, Hezbollah, the militias and Russian influence in the region.”
However, his position was not accepted in the Security Cabinet. In particular, Mossad director Yossi Cohen opposed such action because he “wanted an address in Syria,” someone Israel could communicate with, by back channels if need be, as it had done with Assad.
Subsequently, Israel passed up several opportunities to target Assad and his top officials during the eight-year-long civil war, but instead made the prevention of Iranian entrenchment in Syria its priority, “while making sure it [Israel] inflicts minimal damage to the Damascus regime.”