Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh warned on Sunday that Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons may fall into the rebels’ hands, something which requires preparation on the part of Israel.
Naveh made the comments during a ceremony in Jerusalem marking 30 years since the June 11,1982 Battle of Sultan Yaqub during the First Lebanon War.
Zachary Baumel, a U.S. citizen, Tzvi Feldman and Yehuda Katz are three IDF soldiers still listed as missing in action from that date. Since then, their parents have searched ceaselessly for any information about their sons' fate. Zachary's father died without knowing what happened to his son.
The ceremony was also attended by Homefront Protection Minister Matan Vilnai, Zachary’s Baumel mother, Miriam, and the IDF’s Chief Rabbi, Rav Rafi Peretz.
“Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons is largest in the world, and it has rockets which cover all of Israel’s territory,” Naveh warned during the ceremony, according to a Channel 2 News report. “These days, the IDF must prepare to deal with threats to Israel's existence.”
Naveh also discussed the ongoing massacres in Syria, saying, “What they are doing to their people, they probably also did to the soldiers who are missing from the Battle of Sultan Yaqub, and they will do so again if they ever get the chance.”
Syrian opposition sources claimed last week that aircraft belonging to the Syrian Air Force dropped toxic material into the province of Daraa, which smells like sulfur and causes drowsiness and unconsciousness.
It was also reported that President Bashar Assad’s forces had used unidentified gas shells on civilians in Daraa, Hama and Deir ez-Zor.
In a meeting with the Druze community in the Golan Heights on Saturday, Deputy Minister MK Ayoub Kara was presented with evidence that clearly indicates the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, including photos of big black clouds suspected of containing chemical material that were fired over the areas where battles between rebels and regime forces have been taking place.
The IDF’s Northern District Commander Yair Golan recently warned that the battle being waged in Syria between opponents of the Assad regime and Assad loyalists may have an effect on what is happening in Israel.
“Al-Qaeda related factors that are active there now and working against the regime may operate against us over time,” he said. “The Syrian threat to Israel requires attention. It will not happen tomorrow morning, but it can occur within a few months.”
Golan added, “Syria has weapons of mass destruction along with a very heavy arsenal of weapons, including surface-to-ground missiles and chemical weapons. The fact that Syria is a storehouse of weapons which fuels terrorists in the region is very unsettling.”