Assad Used Chemical Weapons on Rebels, Confirms Senior Israeli Official

Official says intelligence services worldwide have evidence of chemical weapons use; 'These are not intelligence estimates,' he says, warning of weapons reaching Hezbollah and other terror groups.

A senior Israeli official said on Monday that intelligence services have concrete and unequivocal evidence that Bashar Assad's military has used chemical weapons against rebels.

The official said that "these are not intelligence estimates… rather proof, and even more than proof. There is substantial material about the use of chemical weapons by Assad's army. It is known to all intelligence agencies. All intelligence elements have been updated. No one has any doubts on the matter."

According to the official,"one of the central dangers in Israel's view is the transfer of Syrian weapons to Hezbollah and Lebanon, as well as to terrorist organizations trying to reach the border. The possibility of them acquiring chemical or conventional weapons they never had before has implications for the State of Israel."

The official also spoke about the resignation of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, saying he was in reality, ousted in a move intended to strengthen President Mahmoud Abbas' hold on the Palestinian Authority funds. "Abbas cooked up the ousting together with international elements," he said. "He needed the money not for his own pockets but for his political survival."

Salam Fayyad was "rational" and "pragmatic," the official said, a far cry from certain militant and extremist factions in Fatah. "He was the only address that donor countries trusted," he said, "and the fact that the donor countries eventually agreed to sacrifice him with their consensual silence does not bode well."

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed ministers not to speak in public about the issue of Syrian chemical weapons. Netanyahu's request came after Deputy Foreign Minister Zeev Elkin warned in an interview with Army Radio that if the Iranians see that the international community respond tepidly to Syria's use of chemical weapons they will continue to push forward their nuclear program.

Ben-Eliezer: Syria chemical weapons 'trickling' to Hezbollah

Meanwhile, Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer alleged Monday that Syria's chemical weapons are "trickling" to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the first claim by a senior politician in Israel that one of the country's nightmare scenarios is coming true.

Ben-Eliezer, the former defense minister, also called for international intervention in Syria's civil war to stop mass civilian deaths, but did not supply any evidence for his claim.

The process of weapon transferal to Hezbollah has begun," Ben-Eliezer told The Associated Press. He refused to elaborate.

Ben-Eliezer, a retired general, also told Israel Radio that he "has no doubt" that Syrian President Bashar Assad has already used chemical weapons and that "these weapons are trickling to Hezbollah."

Ben-Eliezer said he is "amazed by the silence of the world" and that the international community needs to intervene to end the high civilian death toll in Syria's civil war. He said Israel should consider action if there is no international intervention.

"I wouldn't rule out preparing a plan for Israel to act if the world continues to remain silent and the weapons continue to flow to Hezbollah. These are crazy people, terrorists who will not hesitate to use this tomorrow morning," he said.

On Sunday, the political-security cabinet convened for four hours to discuss the situation in Syria, the first in-depth discussion by senior ministers about events there since the new government was formed, a senior Israeli official said.

In the weeks since the government was established, the forum has met several times, but those meetings dealt primarily with intelligence surveys and briefings for those ministers lacking diplomatic and security knowledge, like Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan.
The senior official noted that Sunday's meeting dealt less with hearing assessments and more on a discussion of what Israel's policy should be regarding the situation in Syria.

The government must decide whether to formulate a new policy or to ratify the policy of the previous government, he said.