The undertones are important. When the Israeli Air Force (IAF) commander talked on 19 December about chemical weapons in Syria, he was not very specific about what his pilots would do to foil any attempt by the dying regime to use them in an act of panic.
Maj Gen Amir Eshel said that Syria was falling apart rapidly and that the situation was creating a host of security threats that were “very, very close to Israel”.
He added that Damascus is in possession of stockpiles of advanced weapons, including unconventional ones.
He said: “We don’t know what will happen the day after [president] Assad falls. We are preparing ourselves for this, and for the eventuality of weapons flowing out of Syria.”
Monitoring of Syrian bases in recent weeks has resulted in evidence that engineers have loaded the chemicals – which combine to form the deadly nerve agent Sarin – into bombs that could be dropped from fighter aircraft.
Satellites have detected a movement of vehicles among the bunkers where the weapons and agents are believed to be stored.
As always, Israel, and this time the chief of the IAF, is not specific about the plans to cope with the threat from Syria, but one can assume he is like a coiled spring.