The IDF raised its level of alert on Thursday and called off weekend furloughs
for a number of units due to concern over the fighting in Syria.
Wednesday, a bomb in a Damascus security building killed defense minister Daoud
Rajha; deputy defense minister Assef Shawkat, who was also President Bashar
Assad’s brother-in-law; and former defense minister and senior military official
Gen. Hassan Turkmani.
Syria’s interior minister and several other
officials were seriously wounded.
Israel is primarily concerned that
Syria’s chemical weapons or other advanced military systems will fall into the hands of rogue
actors such as Hezbollah or global jihad elements operating in the
Israel is also concerned that Assad – feeling his back against
the wall – may decide to take Israel with him, and as a result fire everything
he has at the Jewish state.
On Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
toured the border with Syria and warned that Hezbollah might move Syrian
chemical weapons to Lebanon.
Since many Islamists came to Syria from
outside the country – from global jihad, al-Qaida and other groups – there may
be even greater chaos there the day after Assad, Barak said.
night, Barak spoke with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and updated him on
Israel’s concerns regarding the situation in Syria. Barak told Panetta, who is
scheduled to visit Israel later this month, that Assad’s days were numbered and
that Israel’s main concern was with the chemical weapons.
As Barak toured
the border on Thursday, mortar fire was heard from within Syria.
officials said the shelling was not connected to Barak’s visit but was part of
the unrest in Syria.
Later in the day, a group of about 15 Syrian
civilians approached the border, raising IDF fears that they would try to cross
into Israel to seek refuge. IDF troops were deployed to the scene and the
military contacted United Nations peacekeepers. The group eventually returned to
their homes in a village about 2 kilometers from the border.
said the military had prepared contingency plans for the possibility that large
numbers of refuge-seekers would try to force their way over the
Under the plan, the army plans to hold the civilians in an area
on the border that is not Israeli territory but is a fenced-in
The sources said that the IDF was prepared to provide the
refuge-seekers with food and water and even protect them from Syrian military
forces if they tried to attack the civilians.