Text size

The security cabinet will hear intelligence updates on the arming of Syrian forces in a briefing this week. Intelligence sources said they did not believe Syria was preparing for war, despite the fact it is rearming.

Israel's main concern is the possibility that Syria might try to take control of a small part of the Golan to use as a bargaining chip for continued negotiations for the whole territory, as Egypt did with Sinai.

Political sources said last week they believed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was being assisted by Turkey to ascertain Syria's intentions.

The main reason the Israel Defense Forces are not currently recommending a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip is fear that war might break out with Syria this summer, IDF sources said.

This argument is rarely mentioned publicly, in part because intelligence analysts are still uncertain about whether Syrian President Bashar Assad intends to start a war or is merely trying to pressure Israel to resume peace talks. But Syria has clearly been preparing for the possibility of war, both through troop training and major arms deals.

As a result, the IDF believes it must also be ready for this possibility, and excessive activity on the southern front would undermine its capabilities in the north. From the army's perspective, Syria is the biggest threat; the Palestinian front is secondary.

The army is also concerned that miscalculations of the enemy's intentions, on either side of the border, could lead to war between Syria and Israel even if neither side wants it. This scenario was the subject of a major military exercise last month.