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 strength.”

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 Iran.

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 IDF.”

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 counterparts.

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 credibility.

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 strikes Syria.

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.

“Today 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.”

Danielle Ziri and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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