JERUSALEM — Israeli defense officials said yesterday that they believe Hezbollah has Scud missiles that could hit all of Israel, a day after Israel’s president accused Syria of supplying the Lebanese guerrillas with the weapons.
Israeli officials say the introduction of Scuds could alter the strategic balance with Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed militia that battled Israel to a stalemate during a monthlong war in 2006.
President Shimon Peres, speaking in Paris, accused Syria of playing a double game, talking about peace while delivering Scuds to Hezbollah, according to a statement from his office.
The remarks by Peres, whose position is largely ceremonial, went beyond public assessments of senior Israeli defense figures. He gave no details.
In Washington, the Syrian Embassy dismissed the allegations and accused Israel of trying to divert attention from questions about Israel’s nuclear program. Israel is widely believed to possess nuclear arms, though it has not confirmed or denied this.
“If we are to discuss armament in our region, we should begin with Israel’s massive nuclear weapons arsenal and continuous arming with top-caliber US weapons, which helps perpetuate its occupation of our territories,’’ said Ahmed Salkini, embassy spokesman. “The timing also indicates a sinister attempt to undermine any USSyrian rapprochement.’’
Robert Gibbs, White House press secretary, said the Obama administration has relayed its concerns to Syria at the highest levels about weapons that could destabilize the region.
Some Scud missiles have a range of hundreds of miles and could reach any target in Israel if fired from Lebanon. They can carry an explosive warhead of up to 1 ton.