IDF may act to stop Syria weapons smuggling
By YAAKOV KATZ
IDF commander says that Israel must obtain intelligence that weapons transfers from Syria to Hezbollah are taking place.
Israel will consider using military force to intercept the transfer of advanced
weaponry or chemical weapons from Syria to a terrorist organization such as
Hezbollah, OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan said on
Speaking in Ramat Gan, at a conference at the Begin-Sadat
Center for Strategic Studies marking the 30th anniversary of the start of the
First Lebanon War, Golan said that the first challenge for Israel would be to
obtain intelligence that such a transfer had taken place, but that once Israel
knew it would need to consider action.
“Would it be wise to intercept
such a transfer or would this be nonsense?” Golan asked, presenting the dilemma
the government would face.
Also on Wednesday, The Jerusalem Post learned
that the IDF’s new assessment regarding Syria predicts that President Bashar
Assad will remain in power until the end of 2012 and possibly through
The IDF had originally predicted that Assad would fall within the
first year of the uprising in Syria, which has now entered its 14th month. The
most extreme prediction came from Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who repeatedly
said over the past year that Assad would fall “within weeks.”
wrong,” a senior IDF officer admitted on Wednesday. “We now understand that he
will probably survive 2012 and maybe 2013 as well.”
The officer predicted
that Syria would fall into disarray and that while Assad might lose control over
parts of the country, he would remain in power in Damascus, protected by the
Golan said that Syria was a “failed state” and that terrorists
were already “flourishing” within the country.
“Terror is already
flourishing in Syria and the terror threat toward Israel is forming,” he said.
“It will not happen tomorrow, but we need to be prepared. It is not hard to
think of a reality in which al-Qaida elements already in Syria and fighting the
regime will start to act against us. It is also possible that without a clear
regime, Syria will become another area of operations for
Golan said that Tehran was deeply concerned with the
possibility that Assad would fall and was providing Syrian security forces with
support both directly and via Hezbollah.
“Iran is here and we are
fighting a daily war indirectly against Iran, from Islamic Jihad in Gaza to
Hezbollah in Lebanon,” he said. “Iran’s influence in Syria is also felt. It is
very concerned with the future of its ally Bashar Assad and is trying to help
him directly and via Hezbollah.”
Golan issued a direct threat to
Hezbollah and said that the IDF would deal it a “fatal blow” and defeat
“This defeat will be demonstrated by the capture and killing of
Hezbollah fighters, the capture of their weapons and the destruction of their
infrastructure,” he said.
On Wednesday, Barak called for tougher action
against the Syrian regime, and Vice Premier Shaul Mofaz urged the establishment
of a humanitarian corridor.
Barak described the Assad regime’s actions as
crimes against humanity that warranted more than expressions of
“These events in Syria compel the world to take action, not
just talk,” he told a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies
in Tel Aviv.
“These are crimes against humanity and the international
community must not stand on the sidelines.”
Turkey instructed Syria on
Wednesday to withdraw all its diplomats within 72 hours, in a protest against
the massacre of more than 100 civilians in the town of Houla last Friday. The
move came after Western powers including the United States, France and Britain
took similar action.
Barak praised the diplomatic measures but said they
would do little to change the situation on the ground.
“I don’t think that Assad lost an hour’s sleep last night because of those
people leaving,” he said. “More concrete action is required” if Assad is to be
pushed to relinquish power.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Mofaz said it was
only a matter of time before the Syrian leader’s removal.
question is how many innocent people will pay with their lives until
Given the atrocities we’ve seen, what the West has done until now
isn’t enough. I hope it’s just the first step toward more assertive action,” he
“We should open a humanitarian corridor to the people of Syria.
Turkey has a key position in this, but we need to examine how we can play an
indirect role,” he said. “Once the opportunity arises to help, it’s important
Israel be ready to do so.”
In Syria on Wednesday, rebels gave Assad 48
hours to abide by an international peace plan to end violence or face
consequences, a rebel spokesman said.
“The joint leadership of the Free
Army inside Syria announces that it is giving the regime a final 48-hour
deadline to implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” Col. Qassim
Saadeddine said in a statement posted on YouTube.
“It ends on Friday at
12:00 [noon], then we are free from any commitment and we will defend and
protect the civilians, their villages and their cities,” he said.
announcement came after UN observers said 13 bodies had been discovered bound
and shot in the eastern part of the country, five days after a massacre of 108
civilians in Houla, nearly half of them children, ignited a world
Activists said the victims were army defectors killed by Assad’s
forces, but it was not possible to verify their accounts.
observer report underlined how a peace plan drafted by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi
Annan has failed to stem bloodshed or bring Syria’s government and opposition to
the negotiating table.
Annan’s deputy Jean-Marie Guehenno told the
Security Council that Syria’s protesters “have lost fear and are unlikely to
stop their movement,” according to a diplomat with knowledge of the closed
Guehenno said direct engagement between government and
opposition was “impossible at the moment,” and expressed “serious doubts over
the commitment of Syrian authorities to the Annan plan,” the diplomat
Reuters contributed to this report.