Netanyahu reassures: Israel ready for any Syria scenario

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel is ready for “any scenario” in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, amid reports that Syria will hit Tel Aviv if Israel launches another raid on Syrian soil.

“We are following developments (in Syria) closely and are readying for any scenario,” Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting..

“The Israeli government is working responsibly and with determination and sagacity, in order to ensure the supreme interest of the State of Israel – the security of Israeli citizens in keeping with the policy that we have set, to – as much as possible – prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and to other terrorist elements. We will work to ensure Israelis’ security interest in the future as well,” Netanyahu said.

Earlier this month, two alleged Israeli airstrikes on Syrian military sites reportedly targeted long-range missiles in transit from Iran to Hezbollah. Meanwhile, an unnamed senior Israeli official told the New York Times last week that Israel was considering additional military strikes to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah and that Israel would retaliate against attacks by Syria or its proxies on Israel.

Netanyahu’s comments Sunday came after Britain’s The Sunday Times reported that Syria has put its most advanced missiles, the Syrian-made Tishreen, or M-600 rockets, each of which can carry a half-ton payload, on standby with orders to hit Tel Aviv if Israel strikes again on Syrian soil.

On Friday, Amos Gilad, the Israel Defense Ministry director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs, said Syrian President Bashar Assad is “acting responsibly” when it comes to Israel.

“Assad controls the weapons systems in his country, acts responsibly in everything related to Israel and understands the power facing him,” Gilad said during an interview with Israel Radio.

He also said that Israel is deliberately not acting against Assad’s regime and that any actions it may take in Syria are in self defense. “Syria has had some of its parts torn off it” but it is “a violent entity with many weapons,” he said.

On Friday, Lebanese media reported that several Israel Air Force warplanes were cruising Lebanese airspace at a low altitude. The planes were spotted over Hezbollah strongholds including Bint Jbel, Marj Ayoun and Nabatiya in the country’s south.