Speaking at the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, the army chief said that members of Assad's Alawite sect are expected to seek shelter in Israel should the Syrian leader, an Alawite himself, be removed from power.
"The day the Assad regime falls, this is expected to hurt the Alawite sect," Army Chief Gantz said. "We are preparing to take in Alawite refugees on the Golan Heights."
Addressing other possible implications of the Syrian upheaval, the chief of staff added that Israel fears that weapons could make their way from Syria to Lebanon.
"We must monitor the process," Gantz said.
Meanwhile, President Assad delivered a two-hour speech Monday, charging that foreign elements are aiming to topple his rule.
The Syrian leader also rejected Western and human rights groups' claims about the violence in his country, insisting that he did not order troops to direct live fire at innocent civilians, "unless it's a case of self-defense."
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