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Israeli aggression in Syria is provoking a war

How long can Israel’s luck hold out? How many more times can it attack Syria without Assad or Hezbollah hitting back?  

People in this country have been worried that the fighting in Syria is going to “spill over the border,” and now Israel, unprovoked, unattacked, has gone and bombed Syria twice in the last 72 hours. Is anyone in this vibrant democracy protesting? I haven’t heard it.

That’s because the missiles from Syria and/or Hezbollah haven’t started falling here. So far so good, people figure. As long as we get away with it, hooray. If, however, our neighbors to the north start retaliating with some of their tens of thousands of rockets and missiles on the Israeli home front or other targets, maybe then people here will wonder why we decided now of all times to punch Syria and Hezbollah in the nose.

What was the Air Force trying to do – stop Assad’s chemical weapons from falling into the hands of global jihadists, the same ones who supposedly can’t be deterred because they have no address? No. Both times, the Air Force reportedly hit not chemical weapons but caches of long-range, accurate, conventional missiles that came from Iran and were meant not for “undeterrable” global jihadists without an address, but for Hezbollah, which has an address and is being deterred very nicely by Israel – so far.

Why did Israel take out these missiles? The Israeli official quoted after Friday morning’s attack said it was to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining “game-changing” weapons. Which game was in danger of being changed? The game of Israeli military superiority, of the Israeli “qualitative edge.” The rules of this game are that Israel continually flies spy planes over Lebanon, bombs Syria now, and may bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities later, secure in its belief that the targets can’t do much in return – like bring down Israeli spy planes over Lebanon with anti-aircraft missiles (which were hit in January), or terrorize the home front with long-range, accurate missiles (which were hit Friday and yesterday).

In other words, Israel’s air strikes in Syria were meant to maintain its ability to carry out continued acts of aggression against its enemies without fear of challenge. This is the game, and this is what Israel doesn’t want anyone to change.

The strange thing, though, is that Hezbollah and Syria, as noted, already have tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, some of which can hit anywhere in Israel. How much of a difference would these Fateh-110 missiles that Israel destroyed in the last couple of days have made in Hezbollah’s hands? It doesn’t seem there was anything so urgent about bombing them; it seems Israel did it because it believes there was no real risk involved, as former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Army Radio, as quoted in Haaretz.

Yadlin said that he doesn’t expect Syria to retaliate. “A confrontation with Israel would bring more danger, not responding would let Assad maintain the upper hand in the fight against the rebels.”

So far, there are no reports of people being killed in the Israeli attacks, although there are reports of injuries from last night’s strike on a military research center. But how long can Israel’s luck hold out? How many more times can it attack Syria without Syria or Hezbollah hitting back?

(UPDATE: The New York Times on Monday quotes a doctor at Syria’s military Tishreen hospital saying at least 100 soldiers were killed and dozens of people were injured. It also quotes a senior military official saying dozens of elite troops were killed.)

Could that be what Israel wants? Could Israel also be trying to draw Iran into the fray and give it an excuse to hit Tehran? At any rate, is the possibility of a regional war something that doesn’t scare Israel, so it sees no risk in taking out a few batches of advanced weapons before Hezbollah gets them?

One thing is sure – Israel is provoking a war. (Imagine what this country would do if some enemy attacked its weapons sites.) Meanwhile, the Obama administration is backing Netanyahu and the generals 100 percent. As for this country, there isn’t a word of protest from anyone, certainly no one who matters. Israel may or may not be at war in the very near future, but if it isn’t, it won’t be for lack of trying.

Join the discussion:

Related:
Arguments against intervention in Syria are losing steam
The least terrible policy in Syria: Doing nothing

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  • COMMENTS

    1. aristeides

      I go with the Iran theory. Israel trying to pull Iran into the conflict to have an excuse to bomb. Then the US will be pulled in, which seems to be what Obomber wants.

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        Syria and Lebanon are still at war with Israel.
        At no time has either country renounced their state of war that exists with Israel.
        Israel attacking and destroying those missiles is just another tactical manoeuvre in a long, drawn out war.
        And if it reduces the chances for war in the North so much the better

        Reply to Comment
    2. Larry, tell me Syria isn’t paying you for this dithering blather.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Richard Witty

      Its a message to both iran and hezbollah to stay out of the Syrian military conflict, and to not use it as a subterfuge to further arm hezbollah.

      A limited strike entirely, a communication, not an escalation.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Engelbert Luitsz

      And what would we say if any of those countries would attack the US for providing WMD’s to Israel? Israel started operation Pillar of Cloud to test the iron dome, and now they think they are ready for the real stuff.
      For Israel it’s good to have Iran as an option, then they can play the existential threat card and wipe out the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria. We don’t want unrest at our borders do we? I predict it will finish with Israel as an oasis of peace in a huge, huge desert where life has become impossible.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        I have Tacitus in mind.

        Reply to Comment
    5. Arib

      I have George Galloway coming to mind when reading this………..

      Reply to Comment
      • I have J. Edgar Hoover in mind when reading that.

        Reply to Comment
        • Anonymous

          Way to sink to his level, Larry.

          Reply to Comment
    6. Arib

      Larry, BTW Israel is still technically at war with Syria, so the whole concept of provoking a war is incorrect in this context.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        But Israel is not and has never been at war with Iran.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Kolumn9

      What is provoking a war is Hezbollah trying to smuggle advanced weapons into Lebanon and in doing so changing the balance. Yes, the balance is one that is currently favorable to Israel, which any Israeli with a lick of common sense would probably consider a good thing and not something to apologize about given that the explicit goal of Hezbollah is to destroy Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        The goal of Hezbollah is and has always been to defend Lebanon from Israeli aggression. Which is as we can see a constant existential threat.

        Of course they need defensive weapons. Too bad we don’t have a government who will supply them.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          If the goal of Hezbollah was to defend Lebanon from Israeli aggression they WOULDN’T BE IN SYRIA fighting a war that has nothing to do with Israel.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Hezbollah is in Syria to maintain solidarity with its allies and obtain weapons in exchange. Means to the end.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Hezbollah is in Syria because Iran wants them there. They are not fighting Israeli soldiers there. They are killing Sunni Arabs in defense of a brutal dictator. They are most certainly not defending Lebanon, since they are fighting in… Syria… which best as I can tell did not attack Lebanon. So cut the crap about Hezbollah being ‘just an army to defend Lebanon from Israel’.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Deliberately obtuse this morning, are we, K9?

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Just not willing to accept arguments like yours. For example, would you consider blowing up Israeli tourists on a bus in Bulgaria to be part of a means to an end where the end is protecting Lebanon from Israel? This is ludicrous.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            What do I get in exchange for blowing them up? A shipment of antiaircraft missiles? A nuclear-armed submarine? A division of allied troops? A dozen suitcase nukes?

            Those could be some pretty persuasive means.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Ah well then, you can justify any and all actions of Hezbollah because you have accepted on faith that anything they do must be for the holy purpose of defending Lebanon from Israel even while they are slaughtering Sunni Arabs in Syria or blowing up Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. It is also nice that you are able to ignore Hezbollah’s own words about ‘liberating’ Israel from Jews when sticking to your faith.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            K9, I’m not defending Hezbollah’s decision, I’m saying it’s a rational one consistent with its core mission. It may well be a mistake, but it makes a great deal of sense, nonetheless.

            A lot of Druze, for example, have been supporting Assad, simply because they regard him as “good for the Druze.” That’s the way people think.

            You’re not going to achieve much insight if you can’t move beyond “Hezbollah is evil and wants to kill Jews.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Hezbollah is an organization created from an ideological position that Israel should be destroyed and that the Muslim world is engaged in a permanent war with the West (which included Israel). I have done enough research into Hezbollah to know this to be true.

            Israel is no longer in Lebanon and yet Hezbollah refuses to surrender its arms to the central government. Israel is not in Syria yet Hezbollah insists on sendings its forces there to slaughter Sunnis. Israeli tourists were in Bulgaria (not a part of Lebanon) and yet Hezbollah decided to blow them up. The argument that Hezbollah’s primary mission is to defend Lebanon has been shed of its clothes. It is you who are stuck with outdated notions.

            Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Or for that matter Lebanon.

          Reply to Comment
          • sh

            Hezbollah is Lebanese. Where do yo expect them to go? They’re in Syria to secure their supply lines.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            If Hezbollah is so Lebanese what interest do they have in crossing the border to massacre Sunni Arabs in Syria? What Lebanese interest is served in doing so?

            Reply to Comment
        • Joel

          Hezbollah is interested in Hezbollah first, Iran second, and Lebanon a distant third.

          Reply to Comment
    8. Dmitry

      I’m really proud of Israel, that one day after hearing about the massacres in Banyas and surroundings, where hundreds of civilians were killed and their bodies burned, as I was thinking that genocide is starting and no one is doing anything about it, at least someone decided to cull a few of those Republican Guard animals in Damascus.

      The hyena in charge is still alive though. I hope an IDF missile hits him in the ass as he’s running away from Damascus back to the Alawite heartland.

      Reply to Comment
    9. tod

      Thank you, Larry.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Philos

      Larry, you have it all wrong. Should Syria retaliate then naturally most Israelis will be baffled, be told and believe it’s because we’re Jewish, and complain bitterly when we don’t receive unilateral international support for our government’s actions. Sheesh, you’d think you’ve forgotten the Israeli mentality; shooting while complaining.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oscar

        “Sheesh, you’d think you’ve forgotten the Israeli mentality …”

        Israeli mentality? A bit racist isn’t it? To lump all Israelis under one hat. If I said that about Arabs, you would be the first one to jump up and down about it, wouldn’t you?

        By the way, what are you? I thought you said you are Israeli. If you really are, how come you don’t have the same mentality as the rest of us? Or are you part of the enlightened elite with superior morals, unlike us the great unwashed masses?

        You know what you are Philos? You are an elitist and a racist. Once again you successfully demonstrated it with your inane comment.

        Reply to Comment
    11. Richard Witty

      Not a lot of talk about the Arab League proposal now.

      No one to negotiate with there, sadly.

      Too many shifting, contending parties.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Weapons should go to the Lebanese State, not Hezbollah. Hezbollah is now something of a non-State actor with a territorial base in a State. Destroying material in transit, while in Syria, does maintain the territorial integrity of Lebanon. It is a conservative measure–among the violent options.

      I have no idea whether this is a wise action or not, but I doubt Israeli military command is concerend with much else than weapons expansion of Hezbollah. Ultimately, Hezbollah will have to disarm if there is ever to be a true Lebanese State. Do I think Israel thinks that far ahead? No; it probably sees the premise as a fantasy.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Pollock, are you forgetting that Israel launched these strikes from Lebanese airspace? This is hardly “maintaining their territorial integrity.”

        Israel uses Lebanon like a doormat to wipe its bloody feet on, to dump its waste on. What could be more natural than for Hezbollah to want SAMs to take out Israeli aircraft in Lebanon’s airspace?

        And let’s just imagine that the government of Lebanon, assuming anyone can find it, puts in an order for missiles with Raytheon. Any chance the shipment will arrive safely in Beirut?

        Reply to Comment
    13. charles-jerusalem

      to Larry defner,
      The article is not convincing.
      Israel is not provoking a war that has existed for the last 6 decades.
      Israel and Syria are countries at war, point.
      We have stopped their nuclear program and and now we are stopping arms shipments to Hezbollah, same war so far.
      Bashar El Assad comes out not serious and weakened from this event, this is for sure.
      He said a bit like you “one more time and I will bring war on you”.
      War is already on us, what more does he want?

      Reply to Comment
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