Former Defense Minister MK Binyamin (Fouad) Ben-Eliezer claimed Monday that Syria's chemical weapons are "trickling" in to the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, the first claim by a senior politician, albeit not in the government, in Israel that one of the country's nightmare scenarios is coming true.
Ben-Eliezer, a retired general who is now a lawmaker from the opposition Labor party, did not supply any evidence for his claim, but called for international intervention in the Syria's civil war to stop mass civilian deaths.
"The process of weapon transferal to Hezbollah has begun," he told The Associated Press. He refused to elaborate.
Ben-Eliezer also told Israel Radio that he had "no doubt" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had already used chemical weapons and that "these weapons are trickling to Hezbollah."
His statements do not represent an official assessment. Israeli defense officials say that while they are concerned about Hezbollah getting chemical weapons, they are assuming it has not yet done so.
However, senior officials in the military and government have said that Israel has proof that Assad used chemical weapons against his own population.
"There is definitive proof and hard evidence indicating that Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons against the rebels in Syria," an unnamed senior political official said on Monday, speaking at a session of MKs. "We aren't estimating their chemical weapons use based on intelligence reports. We have proof, we're beyond proof."
The official was clearly referring to the United States, which for the first time over the weekend said the intelligence community had varying conclusions on whether Assad's forces had indeed used chemical weapons.
"Every intelligence source and intelligence agency has been updated," the official said. "No one has a shred of doubt on the matter."
According to the official, it is impossible to calculate when the civil war in Syria will end.
"The situation in Syria is long term," the official said. "Whoever thinks that there's a quick way out from Syrian imbroglio is mistaken. This is going to take years."
The official denied rumors that the Israel Air Force had struck a supposed "research facility" in Damascus this week, saying, "We have no reason to fly in Damascus' skies. The rebels are trying to drag others into the game. This much is clear."
The official emphasized that the greatest danger Israel perceives is the transferal of Syrian chemical weapons to Sunni or Shiite terrorists.
It appears that rebels tried to score two victories on Monday. Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi on Monday survived a rebel attempt on his life after a rigged car exploded next to his convoy in the Mezze neighborhood in Damascus. The prime minister's driver and five civilians were killed in the blast. Halqi himself left the scene unscathed, and hours after the attempted assassination, Syrian national television aired clips showing him at work in his office.
"The cowardly attack was carried out in the heart of the Mezze neighborhood, which is secure, near kindergartens and schools," Halqi said later. "It's proof of the bankruptcy and frustration of the terrorists in Syria who are suffering defeats against the Syrian army while trying to overthrow the regime."
Assad's brother-in-law, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, was killed last July in a bombing along with other Syrian defense officials,
Several hours after the attack on Halqi's convoy, militants reportedly fired past a Russian civilian airplane. According to Russian news agency Interfax, "Unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles, which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian carrier. It was on its way from Egypt and carrying around 200 passengers."
According to the report, which was based on an informed source in Moscow, the pilots managed to divert the plane and save the passengers.
At least 150 people were killed on Monday in Syria, among them 70 of Assad's troops in an explosion at military facility in Homs.
Meanwhile, a Syrian national was admitted to Israel on Monday for medical treatment after he arrived wounded at the Syrian-Israeli border. Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz approved the wounded man's entry. He was repatriated following treatment.