At a security meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu estimated that it was “very likely” the US would launch an attack on Syria, Channel 10 reported Tuesday.
A senior government official told the news site that the prime minister thought US President Donald Trump would order the strike in response to the chemical attack on civilians in Douma.
The news station said one practical result of that assessment was that the Foreign Ministry on Monday issued a statement blaming the Syrian regime for the attack.
The official explained to Channel 10 that the announcement was made to show support for possible US-led military action and for a US diplomatic move at the UN Security Council.
“Israel strongly condemns the chemical weapons strike carried out by Syria on April 7, one year after the mass murder carried out by the regime in Khan Sheikun,” a Foreign Ministry statement said, referring to a widely condemned chemical attack on a rebel-held town last year.
“The Syrian regime continues to perpetrate crimes against humanity in using these outlawed weapons.”
Saturday’s suspected poison gas attack took place in the rebel-held town of Douma amid a resumed offensive by Syrian government forces, after the collapse of a truce. At least 40 people were reportedly killed, including children, and hundreds of others were said to have been injured.
Meanwhile the US has asked the UN Security Council to vote on its proposal to set up an inquiry to investigate the attack, but the measure is likely to face a veto from Russia, diplomats said.
In Washington, Trump on Tuesday cancelled plans to travel to South America later this week, choosing to stay in the United States to manage the response to the apparent chemical weapons attack, fueling speculation that a strike may be imminent.
Amid the tough talk from the White House, the US military appeared to be in position to carry out any attack order. A Navy destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, was underway in the eastern Mediterranean after completing a port call in Cyprus. The guided missile destroyer is armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the weapon of choice in a US attack one year ago on an airfield in Syria following an alleged sarin gas attack on civilians.
Agencies contributed to this report.