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Israel is closely monitoring preparations by Syria, Iran and Hezbollah for a U.S.-led war this summer, Military Intelligence chief Major General Amos Yadlin said during a cabinet session yesterday.

Iran and Syria believe a war this summer will be initiated by the U.S. and Israel will be involved, according to Yadlin.

"What we are seeing is their preparation for the possibility of war in the summer. My assessment is that these are defensive preparations for war," Yadlin said, referring to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

"We are closely monitoring these preparations because [Iran, Syria and Hezbollah] could misinterpret various moves in the region," Yadlin told cabinet members.

Yadlin noted that, as in the case of the 1967 Six-Day War, military conflict could erupt despite that fact that neither side is interested in war, because of "the involvement of many players."

The army has defined the present period as one of high potential for "regional instability." Possible conflicts involving Israel would be impacted by other events in the Middle East: complications from the American involvement in Iraq and the struggle between radical Iran-led Islam and the moderate, pragmatic Saudi-led wing of Islam.

The Israel Defense Forces has discerned a clear lack of stability in Lebanon mainly due to pressure by Hezbollah and Syria supporters on the Fuad Siniora government.

Hezbollah does not appear interested currently in facing off against Israel once again, and is therefore careful to fulfill the terms of the cease-fire. Its main efforts are directed at reconstructing its military power from before last summer's war, especially its rocket capabilities and its command centers in the South, "because like the Syrians, it must prepare for war in the summer," Yadlin told the ministers.

With regard to Syria, Yadlin said it senses international isolation has ended, due to recent visits there by senior international figures.

Regarding Hamas, Yadlin said that Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has warned that if the international financial embargo on Gaza was not lifted within three months, a third intifada would break out.