Israel urges tougher action against Assad (REUTERS) By Douglas Hamilton TEL AVIV, ISRAEL 05/30/12 5:53pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
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(Reuters) - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called on Wednesday
for tougher world action against Bashar al-Assad, saying he doubted
the Syrian president "lost an hour´s sleep" over the expulsion of his
envoys from several capitals after the Houla massacre.
"These events in Syria compel the world to take action, not just
talk, but action. These are crimes against humanity and the
international community must not stand on the sidelines," Barak said
in a speech at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel
An army commander said separately that the Israeli military was
making preparations along its border with Syria in case Assad´s
government collapsed, an event which he said could provide Islamist
militants with a "warehouse of weapons" and a new operating base.
"Syria is in civil war, which will lead to a failed state, and
terrorism will blossom in it," Major-General Yair Golan told a
conference at Bar Ilan University. "Syria has a big arsenal."
Although Israel and Syria are technically at war, Israeli leaders
have rarely censured the Assad government for its domestic crackdowns
and initially said little about the uprising that erupted last year
The Syrian leader is widely viewed in Israel as emulating his late
father, Hafez al-Assad, in seeking to maintain decades of calm along
a ceasefire line on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, captured from
Syria in a 1967 war.
Barak welcomed the expulsion on Tuesday of Syrian diplomats from at
least seven Western capitals, describing it as a "very important step
in the right direction" after the killing of more than 100 civilians
in the Syrian town of Houla.
But he said: "I don´t think that Assad lost an hour´s sleep last
night because of those people leaving.. and more concrete action is
Barak did not specify what additional steps he wanted the West to
Major-General Golan, commander of Israeli forces on the border with
Lebanon and the frontline with Syria in the Golan Heights, told an
audience at the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies that the
situation in Syria put Israel at risk.
It was difficult to forecast how Syria would break up, Golan said. It
could be effectively "cantonised" by the conflict.
The Israeli army was "deeply engaged in getting ready, with plans and
physical means" along the borderlines, he said, without offering
Syria´s stock of mainly Russian-made weapons includes surface-to-air
missiles, surface-to-surface missiles and marine missiles. It also
possesses chemical weapons which Syria never used in its wars against
Israel but which could be attractive weapons for terrorists, the
Golan said Assad´s ally Iran was trying hard to help him stay in
power and Iran´s Lebanese ally Hezbollah is in turn a very determined
enemy of Israel which has "no intention of letting us off easily".
Hezbollah is the most potent hostile military force directly on one
of Israel´s borders but it has done nothing evident in the past 14
months to exploit the Syrian crisis or start trouble with Israel to
divert attention from Assad´s crackdown. (Editing by Angus MacSwan)
(© Thomson Reuters 2012. 05/30/12)
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