Israel signaled readiness on Tuesday to intervene if Syrian refugees were to throng to its armistice line on the Golan Heights, after Israel's Druse Arab minority stepped up a public campaign to help brethren caught up in the civil war next door.
Israel has sought to keep out of the four-year-old crisis in Syria, an old foe from which it captured the strategic Golan in a 1967 conflict and where it fears more belligerent Islamist militants could take over should President Bashar Assad fall.
So far, Israeli forces have limited themselves to returning fire into Syria when shooting hit their side of the Golan, and admitting hundreds of refugees for medical treatment.
But with no end in sight to the fighting that has sent some 4 million Syrians fleeing to neighboring Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, Israel's top military officer told parliament on Tuesday that preparations were under way to respond to any massing of refugees on the Golan.
"If a large number of refugees comes to the border from the combat zones, we will do what is needed to prevent a massacre," Lieutenant-General Gadi Eizenkot said, according to a person who was present at the parliamentary briefing.