Israel’s chief of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, addressed the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. His tidings weren’t good.
Regarding Hamas, Yadlin said the Gaza-based terror group now has a rocket with a 60-kilometer range that can reach Tel Aviv, and has already successfully test-fired it into the Mediterranean Sea. He said Hamas had also smuggled in Iranian-produced Fajr-style rockets, and overall has a better rocket capability than before the Gaza War last winter.
Yadlin acknowledged that things have been relatively quiet lately, and attributed the reduced hostilities to Israeli deterrence as well as struggles within Gaza. The nineteen rockets fired into Israel from Gaza in October, he said, were fired by splinter groups that Hamas is trying to suppress. Hamas, however, sees itself as still building its capabilities, and the smuggling continues.
Regarding Hezbollah—relatively quiet since the 2006 Second Lebanon War just as Hamas has been quieter since the Gaza War—Yadlin said it, too, keeps bringing in weapons, and storing them south of the Litani River in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that formally put an end to the 2006 conflict.
And what of the two forces—UNIFIL and the Lebanese army—that 1701 envisaged as preventing Hezbollah’s rearmament? UNIFIL, Yadlin said, refrains from entering the civilian houses where Hezbollah stores most of the weapons, and the Lebanese army occasionally gives Hezbollah a helping hand with its buildup.
And where do the weapons come from? That Yadlin said they come from Syria and Iran is not new or surprising, though he emphasized that “Syria has turned into the main factory and weapons cache for Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as for Syria itself, with financial aid from Iran. Syria is operating on two parallel tracks—benevolence toward the West, and in its backyard it is becoming a weapons factory for the axis of evil.” The very next day the Israeli navy intercepted a major Iranian arms shipment that was supposed to reach Hezbollah via Syria.
And as for how the weapons get to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Yadlin said they were passing through Syria—again, not new—and also Turkey. That falls into line with Turkey’s recent trend of Islamization and alignment with the Iranian-led bloc, and is an ominous development.
And regarding Iran itself, Yadlin said its nuclear reactor in Qom has “no possible civilian use” despite Iranian claims and is designed for enriching uranium; that Iran remains unmoved by international pressures; that it is aiming for “horizontal expansion” of its nuclear capacity, meaning that when it wants to make a bomb it will be able to do so in the least possible time; and that Iran is not only responsible for financing, training, and arming Hamas and Hezbollah but is also “behind the flow of weapons to Sudan, Iraq…and anyplace else where a military conflict is raging.”
From Israel’s standpoint, then, the situation could be one of only very deceptive calm. Although, immediately after the Gaza War, there was much talk of an international effort to stop the weapons smuggling into Gaza and even an international summit ostensibly devoted to that purpose, by now such visions are more or less forgotten and Israel again faces Gaza alone in a lull, possibly, of some length but, clearly, of no real depth.
The relative passivity of both Hamas and Hezbollah could also reflect an Iranian preference to hold them in reserve—along with Syria—as part of a multipronged retaliation should Israel finally, at some point, attempt a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. The fact that—despite ongoing U.S. and European blandishments—Syria is, more than ever, an armory and transit point for anti-Western subversion reflects dispiritingly on the West’s invincible will to self-deception when it comes to Damascus.
As for Yadlin’s words on Tehran, while well heard in Israel, one cannot be sanguine about the Obama administration’s ability to hear them over the noise of misguided diplomatic activity and its need to believe in “engagement” with implacable evil.