Israel is becoming increasingly concerned with the transfer of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah. Head of the Military Intelligence's (MI) research department Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz said on Tuesday, "Weapons are transferred to Hezbollah on a regular basis and this transfer is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes. Therefore, it should not be called smuggling of arms to Lebanon – it is organized and official transfer."
He claimed that "the transfer of long-range missiles that was recently published is only the tip of the iceberg."
Baidatz on Tuesday briefed the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the current state of affairs and stressed that "today, Hezbollah has an arsenal of thousands of rockets of all types and ranges, including long-range solid-fuel rockets and more precise rockets."
He added, "The long-range missiles in Hezbollah's possession enable them to fix their launch areas deep inside Lebanon, and they cover longer, larger ranges than what we have come across in the past. Hezbollah of 2006 is different from Hezbollah of 2010 in terms its military capabilities, which have developed significantly.
"Hezbollah is in a tense spot between two different identities: Its commitment to Jihad and Iran, and on the other hand, its political considerations in Lebanon and the needs of the Shiite community. Therefore, it has quietly selected its current course of action. The MI believes it is not interested in another wide-scare confrontation with Israel, it fears it, but is preparing for it. The organization still publicly vows to carry out terror attacks against Israel."
According to the head of the MI's research department, "Syria continues to march to both tunes, without being forced to choose between them by the international community. On the one hand, it is improving its ties with the West, with Arab states, and with Turkey, and is also regaining influence within Lebanon, and on the other hand, it is intensifying strategic and operational cooperation with Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian terror."
However, Baidatz noted that Syria considers a peace agreement with Israel one of its top priorities. "The MI sees a Syrian desire to reach an agreement, but on its own terms, meaning: Returning the entire Golan Heights and American involvement."
According to MI estimates, in exchange for an agreement Syria is willing to alter its activity on the radical axis, but Syrian President Bashar Assad sees no change for progress with the current Israeli government, and is therefore unwilling to make any confidence-building moves.
'Abbas not flexible'
On the Palestinian front, a day before the opening of proximity talks, the IDF has a grim estimate. "Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is interested in an agreement with Israel, but his range of flexibility on the core issues is limited," the senior officer said.
"We do not recognize in Abu Mazen a true attempt for flexibility on the fundamental issues, and he is expected to come with the same position that existed in talks with the previous government. Abu Mazen is preparing the ground for these talks to fail – which will bring about the exposure of the true face of Israel."
Baidatz emphasized that there has been relative calm on all fronts in the past year, mainly as a result of Israeli deterrence. However, he said, "Despite the calm, there is no status-quo in Israel's strategic surroundings. While there is a possibility for political agreements with the Palestinians and the Syrians on the one hand, at the same time, the negative trends that encompass us continued to intensify. This includes Iranian nuclearization, the accelerated arming of all our enemies in a close and distant radius, and the chance of a terror attack that could lead to an escalation."
As for Iran, he said, "The Iranians continues to push forward with their nuclear plans, and accumulate means that enable them to achieve nuclear weapons the moment they decide to. From this moment, it all depends on their decision. If in the past the attainment of nuclear capabilities depended on overcoming the technological obstacles, today, Iran is in a situation in which this depends solely on its decision to begin production of a nuclear bomb."
Baidatz also commented on terror alerts in the Sinai Peninsula, "On the eve of Passover there was a real alert related to Bedouin activity in Sinai, who were meant to kidnap Israelis staying in Sinai and transfer them to Hamas' military wing. There was a cooperation plan between them. The reports deterred the groups, but there is still a chance that Bedouins working as sub-contractors may kidnap Israelis and transfer them to Hamas."