Amid Syria debate, preparations and rhetoric heat up in Israel

As threatened U.S. strikes on Syria dominate global headlines, preparations and rhetoric are heating up in Israel. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently spoke to members of Congress in which he explained the importance of U.S. military action against the Assad regime, Israeli news outlet Ynet reported Sunday.

At his cabinet meeting Sunday, Netanyahu said Israel is “an island of tranquility, quiet and security” with “the storm raging around us.” He made the comment without mentioning Syria or Iran, Agence France-Presse reported. 

Those comments came as Israel deployed its missile defense system — possibly signaling its expectation of an attack on its own turf. Israel deployed Iron Dome near Jerusalem on Sunday, AFP reported.

Israel has been generally quiet as the current debate plays out in the United States.

However, before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, began last week, Netanyahu tweeted, “I will not allow anyone to harm the State of Israel. If someone thinks of harming the tranquility of the holiday, he knows what awaits him.”

Israel marks its second high holy day Friday when Yom Kippur begins at sundown.

In the U.S., Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren has also been reaching out to members of Congress worried Syria would strike Israel if the U.S. attacks.

“Don’t worry about us. We can defend ourselves,” The New York Times reported Sunday.

Earlier this year, Israel reportedly bombed Syria twice to prevent a transfer of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah bases in Lebanon. Israel views Assad as an enemy, but also doesn’t want to embolden Syria rebels.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the U.S.’s largest and most powerful pro-Israel group, is also sending 250 people to Capitol Hill Tuesday to persuade members to support military action.

Both chambers of Congress may vote this week or next week on the resolution to strike.