The world’s intelligence community is on the alert for terror attacks at the London Olympics, and Israel knows only too well that it can be targeted at such events, Defense Ministry Ehud Barak said on Sunday morning.
He also said that there was “intelligence preparedness” for a possible attack, and praised the British intelligence apparatus as “very capable.”
Barak said major events such as the Olympics, which begins on Friday, “attract” terror plots, and noted Israel’s bitter experience. Eleven members of the Israeli delegation were murdered by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich Olympics of 1972.
“Israel guards the safety of its citizens wherever they are,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the cabinet meeting on Sunday. “Of course we will continue to struggle and fight terrorism, its dangers and perpetrators.”
Barak, who was speaking at Tel Hashomer army absorption base after meeting a group of recruits to the IDF’s Golani Brigade, also said Israel “cannot accept” Syrian chemical or advanced weapons systems falling into the hands of Hezbollah.
Barak said Israel was monitoring the possibility that Hezbollah, the Islamic militant organization based in southern Lebanon that receives aid from Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, could receive such advanced weapons.
“In this environment… we will defend ourselves in any situation, and with any method, judiciously and responsibly,” he said. It would be imprudent, he added, to specify how, if and when Israel might take action.
As the Syrian civil war rages, the fate of Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, estimated by some to be the largest in the world, is a cause of major concern among Israel, US and Western governments.
Netanyahu said that the government is “closely following” the events in Syria and that “we are prepared for any coming developments.”
In interviews Friday, Barak spoke about the danger of Assad’s weaponry falling into Hezbollah’s hands. He said Israel was watching out for “the possible transfer of advanced weapons systems, mainly anti-aircraft missiles or heavy ground-to-ground missiles, but there could also be a transfer of chemical capabilities from Syria to Lebanon.”
Israel, he indicated, was preparing options to ensure Syrian weapons did not reach the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia.
In his remarks Sunday, Barak also said that Assad is now supported only by Hezbollah and Syria, and “he will fall.”
He said the regime had “no legitimacy” given the way it was slaughtering its own people.
“You are enlisting during a difficult time,” Barak told the new recruits. “Not everything depends on us, for example [the events] in Egypt and Syria. We monitor the situation in Syria. We thought the world would intervene but this wasn’t the case.”
“We need Israel to be strong and this time is your watch,” he continued. “It will be very difficult physically and mentally. Those who are sitting next to you will be your friends for life. I’m a little jealous of you, from the distance of time. This is a difficult and demanding period, but challenging.”