The United States would notify Israel hours in advance of an attack on Syria, an Israeli official said on Sunday.
Syria and Iran have been threatening reprisals in the event that the United States launches strikes to punish Damascus for alleged use of chemical weapons.
Asked how much advance notice Israel would get from its U.S. ally about such attacks, an Israeli official briefed on contacts with Washington told Reuters: “Hours.”
But a senior strategist for the Defense Ministry said separately that Israel was, like the rest of the world, in the dark at present.
“Will the United States attack? Will it not attack? What will the consequences be? All of these things are unknowns,” Amos Gilad said in a speech at the International Institute for Counterterrorism near Tel Aviv.
Reuters filmed what looked like an Iron Dome missile interceptor battery being positioned on the outskirts of Yerushalayim on Sunday. “We don’t comment on our aerial defenses,” a military spokeswoman said.
Next week in Washington, hundreds of activists of the influential pro-Israel American Israel Public Affairs Committee will lobby Congress for military action in Syria.
Some Israeli officials have privately voiced concern that U.S. failure to attack Syria would embolden Iran, an ally of Damascus, in its defiance of international calls to curb its nuclear program.
Gilad disagreed with those assessments, however, saying in his speech: “Whether or not this is popular, I don’t recommend drawing conclusions about Iran from Syria.”
Gilad cited Obama’s declarations that he would not allow Iran to get the bomb, backed by U.S.-led diplomatic and economic pressure as well as military mobilization in the Gulf.
“I recommend attributing a high level of credibility to his statements [on Iran],” Gilad said.
Meanwhile, it was reported that Iran, Syria and Hizbullah have set up a military room to coordinate a response if the U.S. and its allies do attack Syria.
According to sources quoted on Friday in the Lebanese Daily Star, Hizbullah is mobilizing “tens of thousands” of armed militia in anticipation of an American strike.
Iran and Hizbullah are preparing to come in heavily on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime if it appeared in danger of falling.
On Sunday, Assad warned that a “rebel rampage” could result from a U.S. assault.