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Israel Condemns Violence in Syria

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, June 10, 2012.
JERUSALEM - Israel has broken its silence on the conflict in neighboring Syria and is condemning the violence there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says an "axis of evil" is behind the atrocities in Syria.

Netanyahu told the Cabinet that Iran and the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon are assisting the Syrian government in the massacre of civilians.

The prime minister was one of many Israeli officials to express outrage over the violence in Syria after a long period of relative silence. Israel was reluctant to take sides in the conflict because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has kept a quiet border with Israel on the disputed Golan Heights. And Israel fears that if the Assad regime is toppled, Islamic militants could take over.

But in the wake of the massacres, Israeli leaders are now calling for regime change in Syria.

President Shimon Peres said he respects the courage of the Syrian rebels and hopes they will win.

He also said that the international community is not doing enough to stop the violence, and he urged the West to intervene.

Peres will discuss the Syria crisis with U.S. President Barack Obama this week at the White House.