Strike in Syria: Army Intel Chief Says Israel Dealing With Threats Near and Far

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Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi.
Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi.Credit: Moti Milrod

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi said on Thursday that Israel is "dealing with threats near and far" following reports of an alleged Israeli strike on a chemical arms plant in in Syria.

Halevi, who spoke at a memorial for former President Chaim Herzog, added: "The threats to Israel are from armed militant groups, most of them aided and funded by Iran. They are grave threats, but not existential ones."

According to Halevi, "our enemies know well the combination between precise intelligence and abilities. Iran, which wishes to establish a foothold on our border, is flooding the area with lethal arms and an ideology which is no less lethal. The IDF is working to keep the war back, and prepare for it." 

There was no official recognition of the strike, but Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Thursday that Israel "will do everything in order to prevent a Shi'ite corridor from Iran to Damascus." Speaking on a radio program, Lieberman refused to directly discuss the alleged strike, saying he is "not a Syria analyst."

He added Israel is ready for the event the situation on the ground in Syria changes. "We always take into account every possibility, every option in the Middle East."

Earlier Thursday, President Reuven Rivlin said in a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin that Iran might "drag the whole region into war."

Rivlin told Merkel that Iran is a subversive force, that is leading to the establishment of the Shi'ite axis in Syria and the entire Middle East, and that this constitutes a direct threat to Israel and to regional stability as a whole.

At an IDF memorial event, Israel military chief Gadi Eizenkot said "the rapid change of threats and explosive security reality presents us with a complex daily challenge...we're working to strengthen our military capabilities and improve our existing deterrence. And at the same time, we are thwarting with responsibility and determination any threat that seeks to harm state security and prosperity."