VIDEO - Israel relayed reassuring messages to Syria on Sunday, after launching a five-day home front security drill, dubbed "Turning Point 2", which is meant to simulate responses to war, and other emergency situations, including a large-scale terror attack or natural catastrophe.
"I want to make it resoundingly clear that this is nothing more than a routine drill," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during the weekly cabinet meeting. "The Syrians know this, and I hope they are internalizing it.
"Israel is not seeking any military confrontations in the North," added the PM. "We have repeatedly said that we have an interest in conducting peace negotiations with Syria – they know what our expectations are, and we are aware of theirs."
Video courtesy of infolive.tv
According to Olmert, the drill, which will also examine the government's preparedness for emergency situations, "is a continuation of the steps we have taken to implement the lessons of the Second Lebanon War."
'Hamas responsible for terror'
Minister Ze'ev Boim said during the meeting that "the Syrians should keep quiet; we must prepare ourselves for a scenario in which the home front (comes under attack)."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told cabinet that "(Bashar) Assad does not need this photo op to know where Israel is on the map", while Minister of Environmental Protection Gideon Ezra said he was in favor of conducting negotiations "with all of the Arab countries, and also Hamas."
Referring to the recent sniper attack on a group of pro-Israel Canadians who were touring south Israel with Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, the prime minister said "the terror-related incidents in Gaza continue, as is the Qassam rocket fire. We wish the minister's assistant, who was injured in the sniper attack, a speedy recovery.
"Such incidents serve as an example for the continued activities that only Hamas is responsible for," Olmert said. "Hamas is controlling Gaza and it bears full responsibility for all the terrorist activity (emanating from the Strip)."
AP contributed to the report