Israel deliberating further strikes on Syria – reports
Tensions have risen in the area after Wednesday’s Israeli strike on a military research center in Syrian territory. The attack provoked the ire of both Syria and Iran, who condemned the strike as an affront to Syrian sovereignty and promised “serious consequences.” Ephraim Kam, deputy director of Israel's Institute of National Security Studies, told the Telegraph that threats of retaliation from Iran and Syria were greatly outweighed by the possibility of weapons falling into Hezbollah’s hands."If tomorrow the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] sees the movement of this weaponry, it will and should strike again," he told the Telegraph. "This week's attack was a kind of warning – we are ready and prepared to do this.” Israel moved a third missile battery of its Iron Dome defense system to its northern borders on Friday, joining two others that had been deployed from the south on Monday. The IDF confirmed the move, but said that the deployment was “routine” and not connected with Wednesday’s strikes. The IDF has refused to comment on whether it ordered the aerial attack in Syria earlier this week.However, the strike has become a hot topic in the Israeli media, with publications discussing the possible ramifications of the attack."Complete restraint over the long term to Israel's actions could be considered weakness by Hezbollah, so we should expect some form of response, even if not immediately and not necessarily a broad rocket and missile attack on Israel," defense commentator Amos Harel wrote in Israeli daily Haaretz.Publication Yediot Aharonot reported that the Israeli army’s northern command had been placed on high alert, although the military did not confirm this to AFP.
Conflicting reports surfaced in the days following the strike regarding the events that led to the attack.Various reports have indicated that the Israeli military warned Washington prior to the attack. Citing US officials, Time magazine reported on Friday that “multiple targets” had been struck by the Israeli aerial assault, and that Israel received a “green light” to execute such strikes in the future.Time report also wrote that the air strike knocked out a biological weapons center “out of concern that it might fall into the hands of Islamist extremists fighting to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.”The US has yet to confirm any details concerning the strike, but has stressed that it supports any measures that prevent weapons from finding their way into terrorist arsenals."The United States supports whatever steps are taken to make sure these weapons don't fall into the hands of terrorists,” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on Friday, emphasizing that he would not discuss “communications that we have on a regular basis with Israel or the specifics of that operation.”Washington’s main aim was to prevent extremist groups in the region from arming themselves with “chemical biological weapons,” Panetta concluded.