TEL AVIV – Israel’s security cabinet, composed of the country’s top ministers, today held what was deemed a “very sensitive” closed-door meeting to plan for the possibility of war with Syria.
Ministers were asked to leave their cell phones outside to prevent the possibility of leaks. In attendance were Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Strategic Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and nine top lawmakers. It was the sixth such security cabinet meeting in recent weeks.
According to security officials, the ministers were briefed on recent Syrian military movements and Damascus’ acquisition of missiles and rockets capable of hitting civilian population centers, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The ministers were told Syria recently stepped up the pace of its own rocket production and moved some rockets close to the Israeli border.
The ministers were briefed on possible war scenarios, Israeli military options for countering any Syrian attack and the readiness of Israel’s home front, including bomb shelters and anti-missile systems, security sources said.
WND reported last week that with the exception of the north, the Jewish state’s home front, Israelis – especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – are unprepared for the event of war, with only enough existing bomb shelters for 70 to 80 percent of the area’s residents.
Security officials told the ministers during today’s meeting Syria is preparing for war with the Jewish state but that its preparations were seen as defensive in nature. They said they were concerned Syria might miscalculate Israel’s intentions and launch a war based on faulty intelligence.
During a portion of the meeting that was made public, Olmert told ministers Israel has no intention to attack Syria.
“But there is concern that someone might mistakenly think that there will be an offensive and a war which no one is interested in,” Olmert said. “Therefore, we must prepare for any scenario, so that Israel can be ready.”
Israel: Syrian war preparations serious
Israeli security officials say Syria boosted its military near the Syrian side of the Golan Heights with strengthened forces after carrying out increased training the past few months.
The Syrian army has improved its fortifications, according to the Israeli security officials, and has received modern, Russian-made anti-tank missiles similar to the missiles that devastated Israeli tanks during the last Lebanon war, causing the highest number of Israeli troop casualties during the 34-days of military confrontations. Syria also received from Russia advanced anti-aircraft missiles.
The security officials said any conflict with Syria could degenerate into a larger war involving Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border and Palestinian terror groups launching attacks from Gaza in the south and the West Bank toward the center of Israel.
The officials noted Syria stepped up the pace of weapons, including rockets, being shipped from the Syrian border to the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.
The security officials said the greatest threats Syria poses to the Jewish state are the country’s missiles and rockets. They noted Syria recently test-fired two Scud-D surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of about 250 miles, covering most Israeli territory. The officials said the Syrian missile test was coordinated with Iran and is believed to have been successful. It is not known what type of warhead the missiles had.
In addition to longer-range Scuds, Syria is in possession of shorter-range missiles such as 220 millimeter and 305 millimeter rockets, some of which have been passed on to Hezbollah.
Israel also has information Syria recently acquired and deployed Chinese-made C-802 missiles, which were successfully used against the Israeli navy during Israel’s war against Hezbollah one year ago. The missiles were passed to Syria by Iran, Israeli security officials told WND.
Baath official: Syria prepping for war
In a recent WND interview, a top official from Bashar Assad’s Baath party warned if Israel doesn’t vacate the strategic Golan Heights by August or September, Syrian groups might launch guerrilla attacks against Jewish communities there that could lead to a larger confrontation with Israel.
“More and more of our units have undergone intensive trainings starting at 6 a.m. and finishing late into the evening. If the need arises, we are ready for a war,” said the official.
The Baath official warned that in the opening salvo of any conflict, Syria has the capabilities of firing “hundreds” of missiles at Tel Aviv.
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