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Obama at Syria press conference Photo: Reuters
Obama at Syria press conference Photo: Reuters
 
  Photos: AP, MCT, AFP, Reuters, CD Bank

 

Though US postpones Syria strike, IDF prepared

Despite Obama's decision to wait until Congress is back in session, IDF maintains bolstered alertness. Israeli sources concerned Assad might take Obama's postponement of attack as sign of weakness

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 09.01.13, 00:49 / Israel News

Despite US President Barack Obama's decision to wait until Congress returns from recess on September 9 to seek approval for striking Syria, the IDF is expected to remain at high alert at its Northern Command and in the Air Force over the coming days.

 

Iron Dome and Patriot batteries are anticipated to be deployed in the north and center of the country.

 

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Sunday, the IDF is expected to hold an assessment meeting to examine the significance of the postponement of US action. Mobilization of limited reserve forces was not canceled at this time.

 

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Obama seeking congressional OK for Syria action (Video: Reuters)

 

A decision is to be made on whether to release IDF reservists from the Home Front Command, Air Force and Intelligence divisions, who were called up over the weekend.

 

Israeli political sources referred to the fact that awaiting congressional approval means that if US attacks Syria, it will do so in at least ten days, as Congress is currently in recess and is scheduled to return to session only on September 9.

 

"Obama is determined to take action, and as far as Israel is concerned when an attack is launched is meaningless," an Israeli source said, suggesting that the fact that Obama was in favor of an attack was sufficient, regardless of when said attack takes place.

 

The source added that the fact that Obama decided he wanted national support "is legitimate. What's important is the president's clear stance that he will not stand idly by."

 

Nevertheless, Israeli sources said that Syrian President Bashar Assad can be encouraged by Obama's decision, though "this is not the end of it and we must wait and see what happens in a few days."

 

Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman said "Obama's announcement on an attack in Syria when a dictator is slaughtering his people using gas is important, but is nonetheless too little and will probably be too late.

 

"The American hesitance, and the rest of the world's hypocrisy confirms the concern that when it comes to maintaining its security, Israel should not trust others and their promises, but must be prepared to protect its own security interests."

 

Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On wrote on her Facebook page: "I don't think that every military action needs Knesset approval, as Obama is now seeking with Congress. It doesn’t make sense for several reasons. Certainly, however, there must be supervision on these kinds of decisions."

 

"The use of chemical weapons is perhaps finally a good enough excuse for the US, but the moral justification for action against Assad's murderous acts is firm. We don't have to like any of the sides in this war – neither is the light of democracy – but it doesn’t matter. The international community must do everything it can to put a stop to the continuous mass murders," Gal-On added.

 

MK Omer Bar Lev (Labor) said: "The postponement of US attack bothers me in the context of Obama's promise to Israeli citizens during his visit to Israel that he will not tolerate any use of chemical weapons in Syria or nuclear weapons in Iran. Postponement does not only play into the hands of Assad, but it also sends the wrong message to Iran regarding the US' determination to keep its international announcements."

 

MK Nachman Shai (Labor) noted: "From the Israeli standpoint, we received a narrow window of opportunity so as to accelerate manufacture and distribution of ABC masks, close the gaps on matters of preparedness, including preparing the civil population for any possible scenario."

 

The White House believes Congress will vote in favor of a US military strike against Syria because of the threat that chemical weapons pose to the security of Israel and other allies in the region, senior administration officials told reporters on Saturday.

 

Moran Azulay, Yoav Zitun, Reuters contributed to this report

 

 

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