With the US poised for military action in Syria and amid uncertainty as to how
Damascus will react, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister
Moshe Ya’alon made clear Tuesday that while Israel will not get involved, it
will respond severely if attacked.
“The State of Israel is ready for any
scenario,” Netanyahu said at the end of urgent security consultations held in
Tel Aviv. “We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we identify any
attempt whatsoever to harm us, we will respond and we will respond with
His comments came amid assessments in Jerusalem that if the United States does
indeed launch some kind of military attack against Syria because of its use of
chemical weapons, the probability of Damascus lashing out at Israel is “between
low and very low.”
The reason, according to these assessments, is that
Syrian President Bashar Assad knows that if he attacks Israel, then Jerusalem
would respond by bringing down his regime.
Even though there is some
anxiety in Israel about being dragged into the conflict, a concern manifest by a
surge in people lining up for gas masks, Jerusalem has let it be known it
supports international military action at this time.
One of the key
reasons for this support is the message military action will send to
According to these assessments, action against the Syrian use of
chemical weapons will send a clear signal to the Iranians regarding their
development of nuclear weapons.
The question from Israel’s point of view
is whether Iran is going to see an international community not only horrified by
Syria’s use of WMDs, but actually determined and following through; or is it
going to see a vacillating international community.
According to these
assessments, for Israel – which sees itself as the potential victim of a future
WMD attack – the international community acting now in a determined fashion
against Syria is of enormous importance.
Ya’alon, speaking at a ceremony
commemorating the fallen of the Givati Brigade, said that there was no more
terrible manifestation of the dangerous extremism surrounding Israel than the
images last week from Syria of innocent civilians “slaughtered without
interference by the monstrous regime of Assad.”
An axis of evil does
indeed extend from Tehran, through Damascus to Beirut, he said, and the
“enlightened world” today understands what crimes against humanity that axis is
capable of perpetrating.
“We are aware of the events these days in the
Middle East developing before our eyes, and also hear the threats directed to
Israel, even though we are not involved in the bloody conflict in Syria or in
other conflicts in the Middle East,” he said.
“We remain responsible and
deliberate in the face of these threats, but also say with a clear and
determined voice: Whoever dares to test us will encounter the strength of the
A senior Israeli delegation, headed by National Security Adviser
Yaakov Amidror and also including senior IDF and defense establishment
officials, is currently in Washington holding meetings with their
Meanwhile, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee
chairman Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said that the US response to Syria’s
use of chemical weapons was a test of US President Barack Obama’s
Speaking in an interview with Army Radio, Liberman said that
“the region and the international community see the Syrian situation as a test
for America’s foreign policy and security stance.”
The former foreign
minister said that the United States’ position as the world’s leading superpower
and Washington’s ability to influence world events would be judged by whether it
In a related development, Education Minister Shai Piron
told Army Radio as the country’s children went back to school for the first day
on Tuesday that “the education system is prepared for a long list of scenarios”
which he said have been discussed in recent weeks at the ministry.
we are in a world where distance learning and the ability to create interactive
learning are highly developed,” Piron said as over two million pupils went back
to school. “So we have prepared all these tools for ourselves.”
Ziri and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.