Tensions along Israel's northern border are rising. Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom warned yesterday that Israel might respond with a military strike to any sign that Syria's chemical weapons might end up in the wrong hands as far as Israel was concerned.
Shalom confirmed a report that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting last week with defense chiefs to discuss the Syrian civil war and the status of the chemical arsenal held by President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Israel and NATO countries say that Syria is holding chemical weapons at four sites on its territory. Syria usually avoids responding directly about whether it possesses chemical weapons, but says that if it has them, it will keep them safe and use them only in the event of external aggression.
The meeting with the defense chiefs last Wednesday was not officially disclosed, and was considered unusual because of its timing - the day after the elections. In an interview with “IDF Radio" (Galei Zahal), Shalom said that if Syria's chemicals weapons reach Hizbullah or rebels fighting Assad's army, "This would be a dramatic change in the capabilities of these organizations."
Shalom said that such a development would be "crossing every red line, which would require a different approach, including even a military strike." He added, "The basic principle is that this must not happen. The moment we begin to realize that this is about to happen, we'll have to take decisions."
Iron Dome deployed in the north
Channel 2 News reports that Syrian rebels are closing in on the chemical weapons development sites at A-Sapir and Damascus, and aired pictures of an Iron Dome battery deployed in the north.
The IDF spokesman confirmed the report that two Iron Dome batteries had been transferred to the Haifa area, but said, "This is not a specific security situation," but part of a routine rotation of the batteries.
At yesterday's cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, "We must look around us, at what is happening in Iran and its proxies and at what is happening in other areas, with the deadly weapons in Syria, which is coming apart. The Middle East is not waiting on the results of the elections and it will not stop during the formation of the government. In the east, north and south, everything is in ferment and we must be prepared."
For its part, on Saturday, Iran said that it would consider any attack on Syria as an attack on itself.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 28, 2013
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013