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PM: Israel Ready to React ‘Fiercely’ if Syria Attacks

Netanyahu warns of harsh response if Syria tries to hit Israel.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 8/27/2013, 7:36 PM

Israel will strike back “fiercely” if Syria attacks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday.

“The state of Israel is prepared for every scenario,” he said. “We are not part of the civil war in Syria, but if we detect any attempt to hurt us, we will react, and react fiercely.”

A top Syrian official warned Monday that if attacked, Syria will react against Israel. Syrian Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah claimed that Iraq, Lebanon and Iran would join Syria in hitting Israel if Western nations attack in Syria, and that Syria has “strategic weapons” it could use against the Jewish state.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Lieberman made similar comments to Netanyahu’s earlier in the day. Israel “may have no choice” but to get involved in the fighting in Syria, Lieberman warned, adding, “I hope that everyone knows how to read the map correctly and understand that Israel has no interest in entering the whirlpool of the Arab world.”

Top United States officials said Tuesday that the U.S. could strike in Syria as early as Thursday. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has warned that if reports reveal that the Syrian regime was behind a major chemical weapons attack near Damascus, immediate action may be needed in order to prevent a repeat attack.

Israeli leaders have reportedly asked the U.S. to give them advanced notice of any plan to launch strikes on Syria.