The IDF deployed an Iron Dome battery in the greater Tel Aviv area overnight Thursday amid preparations for a potential US strike on Syria.
Jerusalem has assessed that their is a low probability that Syria would strike Israel in retaliation to Western military intervention, according to officials. Nevertheless, the deployment of the Iron Dome battery in the Gush Dan region was the latest in a number of preparations that the IDF has taken in recent days.
Earlier this week, the IDF deployed air defenses around the country and called up a few hundred reserve soldiers ahead of the expected American strike.
“We have a clear responsibility to prepare the army for all possibilities. We took a number of decisions to prepare ourselves for a scenario we hope will not materialize,” a military source said Wednesday.
As part of the preparations, the IAF deployed Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries in Haifa, Ashkelon and Eilat, and is set to place additional batteries in the northern regions of Amakim and Safed.
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“We’ll take additional decisions down the line about placing Iron Dome batteries in northern areas, and possibly further south,” the military source said.
Patriot and Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile batteries, which are deployed at all times, have also been moved around the country.
As of Wednesday evening, a few hundred reservists had been ordered to report for IAF duty – including Iron Dome operators – as well as for Military Intelligence and Home Front Command roles.
“We can expand the call-up if necessary. But this is not a widespread call-up,” the army source emphasized.
The IDF’s overall state of readiness is at normal, he said.
“We’ll only change this when the US begins operating in Syria. There are no special orders from the IDF’s Operations Branch, other than orders for front-line units to be prepared for the possibility of a cancellation of weekend leave,” the source stated.
He added that “naturally forces that are on the northern front lines, particularly on the Golan Heights, will be on high alert over the weekend.”
The Home Front Command, too, has urged members of the public to continue their lives as usual. It reported receiving 20,000 calls to its hot lines in the past day, causing the lines to crash.
“We’ve had far higher call numbers in the past. We will upgrade the phone lines,” the source said.
Similarly distribution centers for gas masks have been experiencing a surge of visits from concerned citizens, and extra staff will be sent to handle the increase in activities.
The army source speculated that the timing of the US strike would depend on a few variables, such as the exit of UN chemical weapons inspectors from Syria. According to his assessment, the strike will occur sometime around this weekend.
The past week has seen loads of harsh rhetoric coming from Syrian and Iranian officials.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards chief Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Ali Jafari said Wednesday that a US military attack on Syria would lead to the “imminent destruction” of Israel.
Ariel Ben Solomon contributed to this report.