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 US-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 Assad or by Assad’s allies in the Lebanon-based Shi’ite 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 United States 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 US and European military intervention in Syria. But a majority also said such an action would probably lead to retaliation against Israel.
Meanwhile, shops in Syria’s capital were filled with people stocking up on bread, canned food, candles, and other necessities ahead of what were expected to be US military strikes. But there appeared to be no signs of panic or food shortages.
Some rebels were excitedly anticipating US-led strikes, hoping the attacks would help them advance toward Damascus and change the course of the civil war.
But even among opponents of the regime, military intervention is unappealing to many in Damascus. A woman said that as a Syrian, she ‘‘cannot support a Western attack’’ on her country. She added that she is so scared, she hasn’t slept in three days.
But one man said people in Damascus are ‘‘used to the sound of shelling.’’ He said he is not afraid of an attack, adding that ‘‘death is the same —- be it with a mortar or with an American missile.’’
UN inspectors were expected to wrap up their investigation Friday and leave Syria for the Netherlands on Saturday.
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.