Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel must prepare for the threat of a chemical attack from Syria as the army deployed its new Iron Dome anti-missile system near the border with its northern neighbor.
Netanyahu told members of the Cabinet during the weekly meeting in Jerusalem today that Israel faces dangers from throughout the Middle East. Top security officials held a special meeting last week to discuss what may happen to Syrian stocks of chemical weapons amid the civil unrest there, Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio.
“We must look around us, at what is happening in Iran and its proxies and at what is happening in other areas, with the deadly weapons in Syria, which is increasingly coming apart,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet, according to an e-mailed statement.
Syrian rebels, mostly Sunni Muslims, have been fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad since March 2011 in a conflict that the United Nations says has left at least 60,000 people dead. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.
The Iron Dome system, which was used to shoot down hundreds of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip during Israel’s November conflict with Hamas and other militant groups, is being deployed at an unspecified site in the north, according to an Israeli army spokeswoman. She spoke anonymously in accordance with military regulations and said setting up the anti-missile battery was part of routine operations.
Israeli forces must be particularly alert during the period following last week’s election in which Netanyahu is trying to form a new coalition government and enemies are looking for signs of weakness, the prime minister said. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu alliance lost 11 parliamentary seats in the vote and the prime minister said he needs a broad and stable coalition to deal with security threats from the region.