'Hamas clear ruler in Gaza.' Baidatz
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
"Syria is moving forward along the path of peace and openness toward the West while simultaneously strengthening its ties to the radical axis," the head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
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Addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Baidatz said "the most optimistic scenario as far as the Iranians are concerned is that they will have obtained nuclear capabilities by 2010," but added that such a scenario was "not likely".
According to the intelligence official, Iran is continuing to advance technologically while the international community is not showing any signs of trying to stall the Islamic Republic's progress.
'Weapons smuggling continues'
Baidatz told the MKs that Hamas is continuing to arm itself with Qassam rockets and is obtaining capabilities that may threaten Israel's home front.
"Hamas is also improving its defense capabilities in case of an Israeli operation (in Gaza)," he said. "The Islamist group is turning Gaza into a bona fide state. Hamas is the clear and decisive ruler there."
According to Baidatz, the smuggling of weapons and goods into the Strip through the Rafah crossing continues despite the Egyptians' efforts to prevent it.
As for Israel's northern border, Baidatz said Hizbullah may attempt to shoot down any Israeli aircraft that enters Lebanese airspace, adding that the Shiite group's armament was also continuing "north and south of the Litani River".
He said the transfer of arms to Hizbullah from Iran and Syria is continuing in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the Second Lebanon War.