BEIRUT: A high-ranking Israeli army officer said Sunday that Israel was ready to stop the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah if the Syrian regime fell.
Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, the outgoing Ground Forces commander, told Israel’s Army Radio station “our assessment is that the regime [of Syrian President Bashar Assad] will fall. We are in a race against the clock to improve our response to such an occurrence. We have forces prepared and ready for action.”
Turgeman, who will now head up Israel’s Southern Command, said the Israeli army was looking closely at whether “strategic” weapons would be transferred to Hezbollah or extremist organizations in Syria.
Turgeman said a future war with Lebanon would be different than previous battles.
“It will be a hard one [war]. It will involve a great amount of units, attacks during the day and night, [and] very massive attacks. It would be very hard for our citizens, but much harder for the other side.”
If this war were to occur, Turgeman told the radio station that it was important to remember “the Iron Dome [missile defense system] won’t be able to protect everyone. So a ground operation would be important in countering the threat of missiles.”
Earlier this month, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said that the group was fully equipped to face Israel in any upcoming war, even without the the help of its allies Syria and Iran.
“The resistance in Lebanon is fully equipped. We have everything we need here in Lebanon, and we don’t need to transport anything from Syria and Iran,” Nasrallah said.
An article from Israeli Army Radio said one of Turgeman’s main tasks as Ground Forces commander was to ready the army for a potential war with Lebanon, following perceived failures by the Israeli Army in the 2006 war.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 25, 2013, on page 3.