Israel preparing for Syria changes

Dec. 23, 2012 at 8:18 AM
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JERUSALEM, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Israel is preparing for radical changes in the Syrian regime, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Israel is "following dramatic developments in Syria, cooperating with the U.S. and the international community and taking the necessary steps to prepare for the possibility of radical changes to the regime with all the consequences these may hold for networks of sensitive weapons," Israel Radio quoted Netanyahu saying.

Netanyahu said "dramatic developments" in Syria are taking place on a daily basis.

Turning to the recent escalation of violence in the West Bank, Netanyahu revealed plans to visit the army's Central Command division and discuss ways of addressing the violent incidents there. His comments come amid a report in Britain's The Sunday Times that said Hamas chief Khaled Meshal has instructed West Bank sleeper cells to prepare for an armed struggle in order to take control of Palestinian land.

The British newspaper said Israel's army intelligence has said there are strong indications Iran is encouraging Hamas to replace Fatah in the West Bank and noted the Hamas military wing receives funding from Iran's Revolutionary Guards. With Iran losing its closest ally Syria, it cannot afford to lose its support in the West Bank, the newspaper said.

Tawfik Tirawi, the former Palestinian intelligence head and a senior Fatah member, told the newspaper "we are on the verge of catastrophe. Hamas wants intifada (an uprising) and now only a spark is need to light the inferno. Hamas will take over the West Bank," he said.

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