The potential U.S. attack on Syria has apparently been delayed a bit, but Israel continues to prepare. While Israelis continued to flood gas mask distribution centers around the country on Thursday, Israeli political and military leaders tried to calm the public ahead of the upcoming High Holidays.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who held further security consultations on Thursday regarding the situation in Syria, issued a public statement in which he said "there is no need to change our routine at this time."
“Despite the low probability that Israel will become involved in what is happening in Syria, we decided to deploy the Iron Dome batteries and other interception systems,” Netanyahu said. "We are not involved in the civil war in Syria, but let me reiterate, if someone tries to harm Israel’s citizens, the Israel Defense Forces will respond with immense power.”
Despite the prevailing view within the defense establishment that the chances Israel will get involved in the Syrian conflict are very low, the IDF is continuing to prepare for the possibility that missiles will be fired at Israel. In addition to redeploying Iron Dome batteries and raising the alert levels of the Patriot and Arrow systems, the IDF decided to cancel weekend leave for soldiers based in the north. Weekend leave was also cancelled for soldiers who serve in vital units of the Israel Air Force, Homefront Command and Intelligence Corps and several hundred reservists have been called up to these units.
On Friday, an Iron Dome battery was deployed in the Tel Aviv area.
The IDF is also formulating plans for how it will respond against Syria if Israel comes under attack. This preparatory work is largely being done by the IDF General Staff, Operations Directorate and IAF.
On Thursday night, Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz issued another warning to Damascus.
"In the event that the fire is turned toward Israel, it is clear to every leader in the region and the world that a heavy price will be paid and the loss to our enemy will be stinging and harsh," Gantz said.
"We are preparing for every scenario," Gantz said. "Israeli citizens can continue their daily routines and prepare for the High Holidays."
Police Commissioner Insp. Gen. Yohanan Danino also called on Israelis to not change their holiday plans, saying Israelis could rely on authorities to manage the situation.
President Shimon Peres also referred to the Syria situation on Thursday, saying, "What is happening in Syria is not a local event, but rather a crime against humanity."
“Israel was not, and is not, involved in the Syrian civil war, but if anyone tries to harm us we will respond with all our might."
Meanwhile, Arab media reported on Thursday that Arab and European Union nations had asked Israel to respond with restraint if Assad launches missiles at it. According to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai, Israel said it would exercise restraint as long as the Syrian attack on Israel “did not exceed reasonable bounds.”
Also on Thursday, Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council, complaining about its focus on Israel despite more pressing events in Syria.
At the Knesset on Thursday, a subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee met to examine various scenarios that could play out in the wake of a U.S. strike on Syria.