Against the background of a possible American strike against Syria, the Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz threatened Israel's neighbor to the north that aggression will carry a "painful price."
"In the case of fire directed at Israel, it's clear to all the world's leaders that the price will be painful and the enemy's loss a dire one," the chief of staff said on Thursday.
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"The IDF is standing at the threshold of challenging days," Gantz added. "We've analyzed the different meanings from every possible development, and out of the necessary responsibility, we're readying for every scenario. Our intelligence capabilities, most advanced attack methods and our defense systems in
the air, land and sea are alerted and manned by our best soldiers."
Gantz called on citizens to "continue with their daily routine and preparations for the holidays, with the knowledge that the IDF is standing for their defense determined, strong and ready as ever."
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is "set" for an American strike in Syria and that there is no need to alter the daily routine: "We've decided to spread out Iron Dome (missile defense system) and our other interception units," he said during a security consult in Tel Aviv.
Netanyahu stressed that Israel is not involved in the Syrian civil war, but warned that "If anyone tries to harm the citizens of Israel, the IDF will respond mightily."
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino also addressed the situation in Syria and said: "I want to tell all of Israel – we are prepared. I ask the citizens of Israel to not change their plans for the upcoming holidays; we will do everything necessary in order to maintain the routine and security of the people. You have
someone to rely on."
President Shimon Peres visited Jerusalem District Police headquarters Thursday morning and addressed recent development in Syria: "What happened in Syria is not just a local event, but a crime against humanity and international law, and therefore the responsible world wishes to respond."
Peres added: "Israel was and is not involved in the Syrian civil war, however if they try to hurt us we will respond with full force. Israel has a strong, innovative and powerful army and has defense systems like never before. The reports about an attack against Israel are aimed at creating panic."
A high-ranking IDF source estimated on Wednesday that the US attack is imminent, but that the chances of a Syrian retaliation against Israel are low.
"A US-led coalition is currently being formed, and a number of factors will determine the timing of the strike, including the departure of UN inspectors from Syria and the meeting scheduled for Wednesday between (US President Barack) Obama and the Russians."
"In any case, the attack is expected to be an American operation. We will only be involved as Syria's neighbors," he said.
According to AFP, earlier on Thursday the US Navy deployed a fifth destroyer to the eastern Mediterranean.
According to a defense official, the USS Stout, a guided missile destroyer, is "in the Mediterranean, heading and moving east" to relieve the USS Mahan, who said both ships might remain in place for the time being.
Several hours before, the Interfax news agency said Russia was sending two warships to the eastern Mediterranean. The agency quoted a source in the armed forces' general staff as saying a missile cruiser and an anti-submarine ship would arrive in the coming days because of the "well-known situation" - a clear reference to the conflict in Syria.
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