"The Israeli government is acting in a responsible and measured way in order to secure the safety of Israel's citizens and prevent advanced weapons from reaching Hezbollah and the terror organizations. We will know how to do this in the future as well," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
"The Middle East is experiencing one of its most sensitive periods in decades," Netanyahu told the weekly Cabinet meeting. "We are following developments (in Syria) closely and are readying for any scenario."
According to foreign reports, Israel attacked in Syria three times over the past year and destroyed advanced anti-aircraft missiles and surface-to-surface missiles that were designated for Hezbollah.
- Analysis: Will Israel destroy Russian missiles?
- Syria: Infighting erupts between rebel factions
- Analysis: Strategic value of shock and shush raids
In a rare interview on Saturday, embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad told Argentine newspaper Clarin that Israel was cooperating with the "terrorist" rebels who are trying to overthrow him. He said the rebels bombed a Syrian army radar station, thereby enabling an undetected Israeli airstrike.
Site of alleged Israeli strike into Syria
The Sunday Times reported that Syria has put its most advanced missiles on standby with orders to hit Tel Aviv if Israel launches another strike on its territory.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
According to the British newspaper, reconnaissance satellites have been monitoring preparations by the Syrian army to deploy surface-to-surface Tishreen missiles.
IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai denied a report published in The Times which quoted an Israeli source as saying that Israel wants Assad to remain in power.
"I don't know who this anonymous source is. Seeing as I am familiar with the IDF Intelligence Directorate's position regarding the events in Syria, I find the quote to be unreliable, if not fabricated," the spokesman said.
During the Cabinet meeting, the PM also spoke of the need for reforms in Israel's ports and discussed the agreements with China, but he did not address the media frenzy surrounding a report which revealed that the operating budget for his official and private residences jumped some 80% from 2009 to 2012.
Meanwhile, Syrian activists said Sunday that government airstrikes and heavy shelling of a strategic town near the Lebanese border have killed at least 16 people, including rebel fighters.
The rebel-held Qusair is home to about 20,000 residents and has been besieged for weeks by government troops. Opposition activists say members of Hezbollah group are also fighting with President Assad's troops in the area.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 16 people were killed Sunday in Qusair but that the death toll is expected to rise.
The town is strategically important because it links Damascus with the coast, where regime loyalists are concentrated. This includes Alawites, followers of a Shiite offshoot to which the Assad family belongs. The rebellion against Assad is largely driven by Syria's majority Sunnis.
AP contributed to the report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop