'Placing Iron Dome in North shows Israel prepared'

Former minister Hanegbi says Iran seeks to prevent arms falling into "rival hands," Steinitz: Israel reserves right to act.

Tzachi Hanegbi 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Tzachi Hanegbi 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
"The placement of Iron Dome batteries in North testifies to our alert level in the region," former minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Army Radio in response to reports that Israel attacked an arms convoy in a border area west of Damascus.
In an interview on Thursday morning, Hanegbi said that Israel acted with good sense by "placing the Iron Dome batteries in North testifies to our alert level in the region."
The former chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, without directly indicating Israel in the strike, repeated Israel's long-held assertion that Iran is seeking to "prevent arms reaching its rivals" when Syrian President Bashar Assad falls.
"Even if there are reports about pinpoint strikes, these are not significant solutions to the threat itself because we are talking about very substantial capabilities that could reach Hezbollah,” Hanegbi said.
However, Hanegbi added, "Israel’s preference would be if a Western entity would control these weapons systems."
"But because it appears the world is not prepared to do what was done in Libya or other places, then Israel finds itself like it has many times in the past facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to,” he added.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz refused on Thursday to respond to reports over the alleged attack by Israel on a Syrian military target.
In an interview with Israel Radio, Steinitz cryptically suggested that there is, however, "no doubt that Israel reserves the right to act when it fears for its security."
Steinitz added that it was better to take pre-emptive action before things get out of hand.
The attack sent jitters throughout the region and came after the IDF stationed two Iron Dome air defense batteries in northern Israel earlier in the week.
Haim Mazaki of the Israel Postal Company, which is helping distribute gas masks at several distribution centers around the country, said on Wednesday that more Israelis have been demanding gas masks in light of the threat of chemical weapons falling into the terrorist hands in Syria.
Speaking to Israel Radio, Mazaki said there had been “increased demand in recent days following reports about the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups in Syria.” The Postal Company said the number had doubled in one week.
Speaking hours before the reported air strikes, IAF chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said that Israel’s need to deal with developing threats before they begin having an impact on the country’s security was growing.
“Today, no one has an idea of what will be in Syria, and how the country will look. This is happening in a place with a vast arsenal of weapons, some of which are modern and advanced, and some of which are unconventional,” he told a space conference in Herzliya.
Israel has been closely monitoring the danger of chemical weapon transfers from Syria to radical groups. With dozens of storage and production sites spread over a large area, attacks against these facilities would require extensive planning, intelligence and resources.
It emerged on Wednesday that OC Military Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi was in Washington for consultations with his US counterparts at the Pentagon.
Earlier this week, Israel Radio reported that the prime minister’s national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, had flown to Moscow for talks with senior Russian officials.
Sources said on Wednesday that Israeli jets bombed a convoy near Syria's border with Lebanon, apparently targeting weapons destined for Hezbollah. Syria denied the reports, saying the target had been a military research center.