Israel deploys its missile defenses

JERUSALEM — Israel deployed a battery of its missile defense system, Iron Dome, to the Tel Aviv suburbs Friday to defend its citizens against possible retaliation if the threatened U.S.-led military strike against Syria is carried out.

As part of preparations against rockets that could be fired either by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or by Assad’s allies in the Lebanon-based Shiite militant organization Hezbollah, the Israeli air force also deployed Iron Dome batteries north and south, in Haifa, Ashkelon and Eilat, and is ready to move two additional units, Israeli officials said.

The U.S. and its allies are considering a military strike in coming days against Syria as punishment for its alleged use of chemical weapons last week. A poll released Friday by the newspaper Israel Hayom found two-thirds of Israeli Jews in favor of U.S. and European military intervention in Syria. But a majority also said such an action would probably lead to retaliation against Israel.

In the northern Israeli city of Safed at the Ziv Medical Center, which cared for 1,500 casualties during the Lebanon-Israel war in 2006, doctors said they were ready for anything, including chemical or biological attack.

The hospital, which specializes in war-related injuries and has surgery suites and intensive care units in air-tight bomb shelters, is already involved in the Syria conflict. In the past six months, it has quietly received 76 severely wounded patients from Syria.

The patients have been shot or injured by shrapnel, bombs and mortar fire. They arrive in Israeli military ambulances after being allowed into the country through border gates normally closed to Syrians in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Many of the wounded are women and children. Others are fighters, most of them probably rebels, as Syrian army forces would have their own field hospitals.

“We don’t know and we don’t want to know who they are,” said Itzhak Koifman, a doctor at the bedside of a Syrian man who had been shot in the stomach. “We don’t ask. To us, they’re just patients.” The hospital says it has spent $1.5 million treating Syrians.

Shokrey Kassis, a plastic surgeon, was treating a woman from Daraa, in southern Syria, whose leg and foot had been severely injured. In many hospitals, “they would have amputated,” Kassis said. “But we are saving her leg. She will walk again.”

The woman, who was prevented by hospital officials from giving her name, said she wanted to return home as soon as possible.

“I will ask God to help the hospital and to bless the staff. I can say nothing but good about my care here,” she said, wincing as her foot was prepared for another round of surgery.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Friday with security chiefs and made a toast to mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, according to a statement from his office. The leader of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, reflecting on the past year, said, “There have been many operations, which we cannot expand on in front of the cameras, of course, and preparations for what may come.”

In the Golan Heights village of Majdal Shams, just a few miles south of Syria, Taisseer Maray, a leader of the nongovernmental organization Golan for the Development of the Arab Villages, said he opposes any outside intervention in Syria.

“I am very much worried about what the Americans will do,” said Maray, who suggested that he supports Assad over the rebel forces and played down the alleged use of chemical weapons. “The Americans, Turks, Russians, Iranians, Turks, even the Israelis have their own interests,” he said. “Whatever happens, we will pay the price.”

But the Druze — a monotheistic social and religious group that is distinct from Islam, Judaism and Christianity — are divided about Syria, he said. About 20,000 Druze live in the occupied Golan Heights; many consider themselves Syrians, while others have accepted Israeli citizenship.

Alaa Abo Jabal, a university student who had studied in Damascus before Syria’s civil war broke out, said many young Druze in Syria consider Assad a dictator.

“They want freedom,” he said.

He was ambivalent about the prospects of a U.S.-led strike, saying it would probably be limited and do little to tilt the conflict one way or the other.

More in Local News

Longboarders from near and far hit the trail in Arlington

The Centennial Sk8 Festival was serious competition for some and just for fun for others.

Signs show the rates for using the express toll lanes for traffic headed southbound on Interstate 405, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Bothell, Wash. Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans Tuesday to try to decrease congestion on I-405 in answer to commuter complaints that the new express lane tolling system is making traffic worse. The governor said he would not be shutting down the tolling system as some people have called for. But the state transportation department is making plans to add new northbound general purpose lanes to ease some of the congestion and also plan to make it easier to move into and out of the express lanes. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
After a 2-year trial, are I-405’s toll lanes here to stay?

Lawmakers will decide whether to keep them or end the experiment and try something else.

Weary drivers using toll lanes say they have little choice

Congestion continues to be a tedious reality for commuters on I-405, which is as clogged as ever.

Council passes six-month moratorium on safe injection sites

Proposal by County Councilman Nate Nehring passed unanimously.

Terrace woman held following collision in Everett

The three occupants in vehicle were transported to a local hospital in serious condition.

Information sought on drive-by shooting in Everett

Debris from an apparent crash, evidence of gunfire found in the 2800 block of California Street.

Crews recover body of man who fell over Wallace Falls

The area where the man fell is called Sky Valley Lookout, 2.4 miles from the parking lot.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

This week’s Herald Super Kid is Nathan Nicholson of Snohomish High School. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
‘The future is biotech,’ but for now he’s busy with everything

Snohomish senior Nathan Nicholson is a student leader and media master.

Most Read