Jerusalem: President Shimon Peres on Thursday warned that Israel will respond with "full force" if it comes under attack from Syria in retaliation to possible Western military action against it.
"Israel is not and has not been involved in the civil war in Syria, but if they try to hurt us, we will respond with full force," Peres said at a special meeting organised at the Jerusalem District Police headquarters.
Amid speculation of an impending war in which Israel may come under attack from Syria and Shi`ite Lebanese faction Hezbullah from the north and Islamist Hamas from the south, anxious Israelis flocked gas mask distribution centres.
In an effort to calm Israeli citizens, Peres said that the Jewish state has a strong and powerful army dismissing violent political rhetoric directed against it from hostile elements in the region.
Such statements were "intended to create panic. Israel is experienced enough [in these situations] so as not to not be drawn into false propaganda," the 90-year-old statesman said.
"Remember that Israel has a strong army, and new, powerful protection systems that have never failed to protect the land, skies and the safety of its citizens," the Nobel Laurate said.
"What happened in Syria is not just a local event, but a crime against humanity and international law, and therefore the responsible world wishes to respond," Peres said referring to the international debate over intervention in Syria.
An alleged toxic gas attack in Syria last week is said to have killed over 1,300 people.
Peres said Damascus has violated all moral boundaries, and cited US President Barack Obama`s speech stating that there can be no such violation of international law and mass murder without an adequate response.
"This time the response must be global rather than local," he said, urging the international community to act on the situation.
As international pressure for action mounted, key Syrian allies, Russia and Iran, today warned against any Western intervention, saying it could culminate into a wider regional conflict.
Obama, who has warned that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a US "red line," has said, "I have not made a decision".