IDF Rates Syrian WMD Threat “Very Low”

YERUSHALAYIM -

In the wake of an alleged Israeli air force strike on a Syrian weapons target and warnings from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that Israel will not permit chemical weapons to fall into the hands of Hizbullah, a different assessment was heard from the nation’s top military man.

The chance of a chemical weapons attack from Syria is “very, very low,” IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Sunday, though he added that the risk of conventional terrorism was growing as al-Qaida-affiliated groups there take hold.

“There are defensive and offensive solutions [to chemical weapons],” Gantz said, speaking to high school students in Yerushalayim. “I don’t think this is the first problem that will occur.”

The IDF has not identified any attempts to transfer chemical weapons to Hizbullah, “but we’re not ruling this out [as a future development],” he said.

“The Syrian border has been one of Israel’s quietest frontiers for 40 years,” the chief of staff noted, warning that in light of the growth of global jihad groups in Syria, “it’s not clear that it will stay that way. We hope it will stay quiet, but hope is not a working plan. Hence, we are preparing operationally… and we will know how to meet any threats that come from this front.”