War fears circulate in Israel

Thursday, April 03, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israel on Thursday was abuzz with talk of possible armed confrontation with Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia and the group's Syrian allies.

Arab media reports earlier in the week stated that Syria had mobilized its forces, including calling up reserve troops, in anticipation of an imminent Israeli attack. That news was accompanied by an Israeli army revelation that Hizballah had redeployed most of its missile arsenal within range of the Jewish state and could be planning to attack in the near future.

Hizballah blames Israel for the recent assassination of its co-founder and operations commander Imad Mughniyeh, and has vowed a painful response.

Israeli defense officials suggested that Syria's preparedness for war may be based on knowledge of a forthcoming Hizballah attack, which would presumably precipitate a severe Israeli response.

Fear of an escalation along the northern border increased on Thursday when Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak abruptly canceled a planned trip to Germany.

Unnamed sources close to Barak told the Israeli media that the cancelation was due to the situation with Syria and Hizballah, but the Defense Ministry later released a statement claiming that Barak had stayed home because of a heavy workload.

In related news, Damascus on Thursday confirmed a report that it had allowed Iran to set up intelligence gathering listening posts near Syria's border with Israel, and that the Islamic allies were working together to intercept Israeli army communications.

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