Yadlin: One mistake could ignite 'explosive' situation with Syria

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July 25, 2006 23:40
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Neither Syria nor Israel is interested in a direct military clash, although the Syrian military has been put on its highest alert, OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. Calling the current situation "explosive," Yadlin expressed concern that any "mistake" or "misfire" could ignite the situation between Israel and Syria. He explained that Hizbullah operatives were firing at the Golan Heights, where an errant attack could entangle Syria in the fighting. "Hizbullah is trying to instigate, to force, another front for Israel with Syria," Yadlin said. He added that Syria has freely supplied weapons to Hizbullah until now, and that several of the rockets that have killed civilians in Haifa had originated in Russia and been given to Syria before making their way to Hizbullah. Yadlin also said that Hizbullah receives more than $100m. from Iran via Syria each year. Hizbullah's dependence on Iranian and Syrian support and weaponry has given those countries a level of oversight over Hizbullah's tactics, added the military intelligence chief. It was highly possible, said Yadlin, that Syrian and Iranian officials were staying Hizbullah's hand from launching several longer-range missiles capable of reaching major Israeli towns in the Dan region. "They don't want to deplete their forces and use all their weaponry too quickly; they want this fight to be drawn out as long as possible," said Yadlin. "They know it will be difficult to get more weapons in; they need to make do with what they have." Yadlin also dismissed the claims made by several cabinet ministers that the IDF had been surprised by Hizbullah's forces in south Lebanon. "We were aware of Hizbullah's deployment in the south and passed that information along to the cabinet," said Yadlin. Committee chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi seconded Yadlin's claim, adding that he was "insulted" by politicians who claimed that they had not known about Hizbullah's forces. At the end of the committee meeting, Yadlin told the MKs that while the threat to Israeli citizens abroad persisted, it did not appear that Hizbullah had yet put into operation plans to kidnap nationals abroad. "They have a range of offensives that they could possibly employ, and it is not yet clear what they will use," said Yadlin.

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