“We will respond and respond harshly,” Netanyahu warned repeatedly.
Israeli leaders are ambiguous about whether the U.S. should strike Syria. On the one hand, they want the U.S. to decisively enforce the “red line” it declared over the use of chemical weapons. On the other hand, they don’t want to see an intervention in Syria, which could change the course of the civil war. Israeli leaders consider Assad a bitter enemy, but looking at the Syrian opposition, they fear the alternatives could be worse.
As Israel prepares to celebrate the Jewish high holidays in September, Israelis seeking to obtain gas masks lined up outside HomeFront Command distribution stations. Fearing that a U.S. strike could provoke Assad to launch a chemical attack on Israel, many civilians were rushing to receive a personal protection kit, provided by the military, with a gas mask and an atropine syringe protecting against nerve gas.
Repeated calming messages from the country’s leaders did not soothe the public’s anxiety. Many Israelis fear that if Assad was not deterred from using chemical weapons against his own people, he might try to use them against Israel as well.