Israel Threatened by Syria and Iran

Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at atahlert@comcast.net.


The presumed Israeli airstrike within Syrian territory on Wednesday has elicited threats of retaliation from both Syria and Iran. Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, quoted at al-Ahd, a Hezbollah-run news website, contended that his nation could make “a surprise decision to respond to the aggression of the Israeli warplanes,” adding that “Syria is engaged in defending its sovereignty and its land.” In Iran, a deputy foreign minister was quoted by English-language Press TV as saying the “strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv.” He did not elaborate.

Syria’s government-owned media characterized the strike as an act of “naked aggression,” that targeted a “military research center” near Damascus. Yet regional security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media, claimed Israel targeted a weapons convoy carrying sophisticated arms on their way to Hezbollah, the U.S.-designated terror group based in Lebanon. An unnamed Western diplomat echoed that assessment. “The target was a truck loaded with weapons, heading from Syria to Lebanon,” he said. A source among rebels fighting the Bashar Assad regime concurred as well. “(The airstrike) attacked trucks carrying sophisticated weapons from the regime to Hezbollah,” he contended. Still other analysts expressed the belief that Hezbollah was moving its own weapons out of Syria before rebels could get them.

Regardless, Hezbollah condemned the attack as “barbaric aggression,” expressed its “full solidarity with Syria’s command, army and people,” and claimed the strike was aimed at preventing Muslim and Arab forces from furthering their military development. Syria continued to insist that a “scientific research facility” in Jamraya, ten miles from the Lebanon border, was attacked.

Yet Maj. Gen. Abdul-Aziz Jassem al-Shallal, former commander of Syria’s Military Police, and one of the highest-ranking officials to defect from the Syrian government, told the Associated Press by telephone from Turkey that the facility, known as the Scientific Research Center, is a “major and well-known” weapons development site. And while he claimed no unconventional or chemical weapons were produced there, he noted that both Russian and Iranian “experts” can be found at such centers.

On the other hand, Reuters is reporting that “diplomatic sources from three countries” claim that “chemical weapons were believed to be stored at Jamraya, and that it was possible that the convoy was near the large site when it came under attack.” That proximity might explain the contradictory reports about who did what. Syrian rebels claim to have attacked Jamraya with mortars, even as a U.S. official told the New York Times that Israel informed the U.S. of its plans “to strike a military target inside Syria before attacking the research center near Damascus.” Sources near the attack told Reuters they were unable to distinguish whether the complex was attacked from the air or the ground. It is also possible, according to a former unnamed Western envoy to Damascus, that Israel hit vehicles inside the complex, as well as a building there.

Russia, which has consistently supported Assad’s murderous regime despite a current death toll of more than 60,000, also expressed its condemnation of the attack, saying it was engaged in “urgent measures to clarify the situation in all its details.” “If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. The Arab League also chimed in, calling the attack “flagrant aggression and a glaring violation” of Syria’s sovereignty.

Syria summoned Major General Iqbal Singha, head of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Forces (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, to its Foreign Ministry to complain about the strike. They insisted Israel breached the 1974 Israel-Syria armistice agreement enacted after the last major war between the two nations. Yet UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey claimed that “UNDOF did not observe any planes flying over the area of separation, and therefore was not able to confirm the incident.” UNDOF also reported bad weather conditions, he added.

Israeli lawmaker Tzachi Hanegbi, who is close to Prime Minister Netanyahu, took the typical stance Israelis take following such military operations. He was noncommittal about Israel’s involvement, even as he hinted the Jewish State could carry out additional missions if necessary. He also emphasized that pinpoint strikes are not enough to prevent Hezbollah from getting Syrian weaponry. “Israel’s preference would be if a Western entity would control these weapons systems,” he said. “But because it appears the world is not prepared to do what was done in Libya or other places, then Israel finds itself like it has many times in the past facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to.”

Those weapons include Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles that would enable Hezbollah to take out Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. Syria’s chemical weapons could also pose a mortal threat to thousands of Israelis, many of whom live in densely populated urban centers. Such an upgrade of Hezbollah’s capabilities could drastically affect Israel’s ability to defend itself against a terrorist group with whom it waged war in 2006. Last week, after Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke about the dangers of Syria’s “deadly weapons,” in a country that is “increasingly coming apart,” Israel deployed a part of its “Iron Dome” rocket defense system to Haifa, a northern city battered by Hezbollah in 2006. Israel insists the move was routine and that Iron Dome had been deployed there before. Aviv Kokhavi, the IDF’s intelligence chief,  was sent to Washington to notify U.S. officials about the move, while national security adviser Yaakov Amidror went to Moscow for the same purpose.

Israel’s goals are simple: they are not about to let the ongoing disintegration of Bashar Assad’s government and the subsequent chaos threaten their existence, even as they remain well aware of the reality that Western powers currently have little interest doing anything concrete to help. Last Monday, when Netanyahu was meeting with a three-member bipartisan congressional delegation, warning them that the  available policy choices for dealing with Syria “are between bad, bad, and worse,” the New Republic published an interview with President Obama who managed to turn reality into a philosophical exercise wondering, “how do I weigh tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?”

As of now, the answer to that question was provided by the NY Post’s Benny Avni. “As Syria bleeds, the West mostly wrings its hands,” he writes. “Briefing the UN Security Council Tuesday, Lakhdar Brahimi, the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, apologized for ‘sounding like a broken record’ as he warned diplomats about their failure to unite and act while the country disintegrates. (In lieu of action, America and other powers gathered in Kuwait yesterday, ‘We Are the World’-style, to raise cash for Syrian victims.)”

No doubt wringing hands and raising cash works for a world that has little use for Israel in good times. As we have seen in the most recent bad times, Israel was widely condemned for its use of “disproportional force” when they took out rocket batteries used by Hamas terrorists to fire thousands of missiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The deadly chemical weapons and far more sophisticated ordinance that could be moved from Syria to Lebanon, where Hezbollah awaits, is a whole different story. In the end it doesn’t matter if Israel hit a convoy or a weapons plant, or both. The IDF has made it clear: any threat to Israel’s existence will be handled with whatever measures are deemed necessary. There is no clearer “red line” than that.

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    The IAF and Sayeret Matkal (plus Dudevan and other special ops who "prepare" the groud for the jet bombers) are second to none. This is a fact!
    While Israel's political decision makers often tie their apron strings to Washington, there are times they cut them. This time they did. The nonsense that they told them about the attack before is, just that, nonsense. Simply put, chemical weapons is a real "red line" and Jerusalem indeed heard Obama when he signaled inaction, at least in relation to helping Israel. As to aiding the MB/Al Qaeda "rebels" in Syria, he is "helpful".

    Most significantly, the "booms" in Fordow were related to the "booms" in Syria. Taking more than an educated guess leads us here – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/01/28/israels-speci

    BTW, none of this is an exercise in hyperbole. In fact, on Wed, in late afternoon, this blogger heard highly unusual "booms" up north, windows rattling and all. Something was afoot.

    Adina kutnicki, Israel – http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • Underzog

      The A (associated with terrorists) P claims that Fordow in Iran never happened. They cite the U N's IAEE as their source; however, the U N is not let near Iran's nuke defelopment sites. I think the Associated Press is parroting Iran's and the administration's line that nothing happened there. I wonder if the North Korean and Russian scientists who are allegedly trappred at the Fordow facility have a comment on that. That is if they are still alive at this point. [veg]

  • crackerjack

    Israe is back in the occupation trap. The Western backed regime soon to replace Assad will definately have the liberation of Syrias occupied Golan region high on its national agenda.

    So its a loose-loose situation for Tel Aviv. A Western backed Syrian goverment would put Golan back in the international spotlight, while a breakup of Syria would strengthen Hezbollah and Hamas.

    • stern

      The only thing that's loose-loose here is you.

    • jacob

      Would you get mad at me if I say that, regardless of who takes over Syria once ASSAD out of the
      way, will see the GOLAN HEIGHTS back the day it will be able to see its own ears without a
      mirror , whether the Useless Nations, Obama, the EU likes it or not ?????

    • JacksonPearson

      "So its a loose-loose situation for Tel Aviv." ???

    • JacksonPearson

      LMAO…You're just a "looser" rowing with just one oar in the water?

    • EarlyBird

      There ain't no way Israel – or an Obama administration – is going to allow any Assad replacement to take over the Golan Heights. The Heights are like a built-in launching pad for rockets into Israel.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      crackerjackass, you have a screw loose-loose.

    • ziontruth

      The Golan Heights belong to Israel, and the capital of the Jewish State is Jerusalem undivided and cleansed of Arab squatters. No matter what you or the Islamonazis puppet-mastering the U.N. think.

  • kaz

    obama’s participation in anti-israeli jihad may have unintended consequences. everything else does. muslims think they love genocide, mostly because they have always been the genociders, and have never experienced it. muslims also love a little suicide, as long as it is done to spread islam and collect beautiful black eyed virgins for peaceful muslim martyrs. backing israel into a corner, threatening them with imminent genocide, and giving them no option other than a nuclear first strike might be the biggest learning experience for muslims since they discovered caravan raiding. the sight of mushroom clouds over mecca, medina, riyadh, tehran, damascus, and other islamic edens might be a very educational experience. we might finally see that long awaited muslim rennaissance. in fact, faced with the consequences of their worship of the god of pure evil, they just might find themselves a more peaceful deity. i suggest zeus. his existence is as well proven as allah, and zeus never killed nearly as many people as allah, or the judeo-christian god. besides, zeus, while liking a sacrifice every now and again, like any self respecting god, does not expect to convert everyone to zeusism. that would be very refreshing. a note of caution. obama better hope the israelis are not spiteful. when they are forced into the sampson option, they just might have a nuke for washington too. the price of jihad may be higher than the antipresident bargained for.

  • geneww1938

    With enough pressure from our state department, Obama will have Egypt added to the fray. Satan has no better allies than Obama, the Clinton's, Kerry, and his Muslim religion.

  • pierce

    Disgraceful what Obama has done with the Middle/East. He has left Israel to the vultures, and if his nominee for Secretary of Defense is confirmed, he will have disgraced the USA. In my eyes Israel is doing the right thing.

  • JacksonPearson

    IMO, Syria is in NO position to open a second front against Israel.

    • EarlyBird

      "IMO, Syria is in NO position to open a second front against Israel."

      Exactly. For that matter, no country in the region could take on Israel. It's the region's 800 lb gorrilla, as it should be.

      Which should all help us relax a bit.

      • JacksonPearson

        I don't believe Israel's an 800 pound gorilla, and IMO, vulnerable.
        Because of the number of Israeli's that are armed and willing to fight for their existence, is the difference. They've learned as a nation, that they must take care of themselves under adverse conditions.

        But, surrounding nations are becoming better armed, better equipped, more savvy, and a bit more sophisticated than before. If the Muslim Brotherhood don't get settled down in Egypt, they could become Israel's biggest headache. Because I believe Mohamed Morsi would use a diversion to attack Israel, to cover for the Islamic problems he and his governance have caused.

        • EarlyBird

          I think it would take a sustained and coordinated attack from numerous countries to do any real damage to Israel. And the Arabs can't coordinate a picnic together let alone a war. Iran and Syria, not so much either.

          • JacksonPearson

            I don't know. Israel has power, but it's awfully small, while the surrounding countries are becoming more, and more armed with almost equal power.

  • Russ

    If Syria Had "Those weapons include Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles that would enable Hezbollah to take out Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones" would they not have used them against the Israeli jets attacking Her?.

    • stern

      Suggest you reread the news. Syria could only have used those weapons if she'd known Israel was attacking. In case you miss it again, I'll spell it out for you. It was a STEALTH operation.

  • marios

    Israel is on the first line in battle with Islamic terrorism, preventing Islamic expansion to dominate in the world. We are all behind courageous tiny Israel. Israel destiny is USA destiny and moreover all Western civilization destiny. Islamists openly many years repeated that "Israel is small Satan and US is big Satan". Only gullible people don't understand it. Obama is the best friend of Islam by his own words and his deeds as well and therefore he is Israel enemy with all his accomplices .

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      As is India, Eurabia, Pakistan…

    • Mr. Polly

      Israel is not a western country and the USA would have no enemies in the Middle East if not for Israel.

      • Drakken

        Are you on effing crack?

      • ziontruth

        "…and the USA would have no enemies in the Middle East if not for Israel."

        Yes, I find it comparable to the situation in Thailand: The Buddhist Thais are subject to Islamic terrorist attacks in Southern Thailand because of Thailand's special relationship with Israel.

        What? What's that you're saying? Thailand doesn't have a special relationship with Israel? Oh dang, there goes my pet theory…

        The denial of the imperialistic nature of Islam is THE policy failure, both local and foreign, that's causing the needless turmoil in the world today. The fact that people harboring Mr Polly's thoughts are in positions of power is the greatest scandal of geopolitics in our time.

  • EarlyBird

    Take note, folks: Everybody knew that after the Israeli Air Force took out that convoy, that the standard "blood of marytrs, infidels burn in hell!," hysterical "warnings" of retaliation would come out of Syria, Iran and other psychotic Muslim nations.

    But is anyone really taking those "warnings" seriously? No. Are Israelis up at night because another "warning" came out of those regimes? No. Even the Syrians and Iranians know they're not serious, but do those warnings for internal consumption.

    Israel would have a field day defending against any kind of serious conventional attack. It would in fact be a magnificent strategic blunder of her enemies to attack her in this manner, by smashing themselves against Israel's defenses. Syria is a wreck, Iran is not far behind, and Israel has some of the world's best trained and equipped military you can hope for.

    All with the backing of the USA.

    • Drakken

      Assumption is the mother of all effups, so thinking that you know what the arabs are going to do is different from what you know they are going to do, big difference, so to remain vigilant would always be a better choice.

  • Ghostwriter

    It wouldn't hurt to take what they say seriously,EarlyBird. It's better to be safe than sorry.

    • EarlyBird

      I'm sure the IDF is on the job.

  • scum

    Long story short, Israel attached Syria.

    • EarlyBird

      Of course Israel attacked Syria. As it had every right to. What do you think the target of that convoy of weapons heading south was intended for?

      If you want to be anti-Israel, do so, but don't play dumb. Israel didn't just wake up and decide to attack a convoy of weapons headed south, just for kicks.

      It's like a boxing match. Don't cry "foul" every time your guy gets hit back. If he can't take it he should never have stepped into the ring.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      It was a "workplace accident".

  • SAM000

    The war room of Assad is commanded by Ghassem Soleimany le commander of Qods Forces (Un special IRG Brigade charged for external terrorist attacks under direct order of Khamenei).
    Assad's security and approach guards are Iranian and under the same force.
    So, Syria's Military and political voice is Iranian.
    The only arm that Iranian side possesses is the the empty menaces, Iran is not able to open anther front with Israe.
    Security of Syria is the security of Iran , Khamenei said.
    Iran has invested all his military and economy to save Assad's regime, Iran engaged even Hezbollah to assist Assad.
    Another front opened against Iran are the General riots in Iraq.
    So , don't care about Iranian menaces.
    This is an additional reason why Iran wants to acquire the Nuclear Bomb by all the means.
    Don't stop, strike and you will eat the sweat fruit of the security for ever, this is the best time for Israel to secure himself, Hezbollah can no longer defend himself against Israelis bombing, Hezbollah is ordered to help Assad's regime.

  • polnick

    A scientific investigation of the Arab workforce will prove that 85% are innately slow learners. They have been dumbed down by inverted breeding, those that prayed most often were given more of an opportunity to impregnate their illiterate wives. It will take decades to reverse this seeding and blossoming of ignorance

  • John_Kelly

    Thank you Israel for showing the world how to deal with the Islamic agenda.

    Israel I salute you !

  • Drakken

    I we were smart we would encourage the Kurds to hit both sides of the Syrian civil war and be a pain in the azz to Iran, Turkey, and Iraq.

  • SAM000

    Breaking NEWS;
    An important explosion in Zarin Shar of Isfahan occurred last night. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2815601153

  • SAM000

    Breaking NEWS;
    An important explosion in Zarin Shar of Isfahan occurred last night. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2815601153

  • zebrano

    We hear a lot about a drawn line in the sand about Iran.
    1. Is there any sand?
    2. Is there too much sand so that the hot wind keeps erasing that line?

  • bruce

    the world would be better off with out muslims and obama