With Escalating Conflict in Syria, Israel Can’t Afford to Flinch

Last week, Israel struck Iranian positions near Damascus, evidently to prevent an attack on its own territory. Tehran responded by launching rockets from Syria into the Golan Heights, which either fell short of their targets or were intercepted by Israeli countermeasures; to this, Jerusalem responded with a series of attacks throughout Syria. The episode constitutes a new escalation in the ongoing conflict between the Jewish state and the Islamic Republic, about which Yaakov Amidror comments:

Unlike past reports involving attacks on select targets or a single warehouse, the IDF sought to strike a vast array of targets, apparently the entirety of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria—from intelligence outposts to weapons facilities. [In other words], Israel sought to exploit the opportunity to hit a wide range of targets. The IDF had surely been aware of many of these targets for some time, but the opportunity or the diplomatic justification to attack them hadn’t emerged yet. The Iranians created the justification by firing directly at Israel for the first time. The new situation necessitated a different type of response—decisive and comprehensive.

Because Israel cannot allow Iran to build another war machine in Syria—on top of the one it already has in Lebanon in the form of Hizballah—it had to put a “price tag” on Tehran’s activities. Such an attack, if it was indeed successful, will have set the price appropriately. With that, Israel must not ease up. Its intelligence branches need to understand what was destroyed and then identify where and how Iran intends to push its military build-up forward—and neutralize that as well.

Israel’s mission planners [also] need to study the operation and look into the seemingly exaggerated Russian claim that some of the missiles fired by Israel were intercepted by Syrian air defenses (which the IDF targeted only after they opened fire on Israeli planes). They need to think of new attack methods to overcome the dense Syrian defenses, which mainly consist of Russian air-defense systems. The fight isn’t over yet; it seems Iran still hasn’t given up on its plans.

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More about: Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war

To Israel’s Leading Strategist, Strength, Not Concessions, Has Brought a Measure of Calm

Aug. 14 2018

Following a long and distinguished career in the IDF, Yaakov Amidror served as Israel’s national-security adviser from 2011 to 2013. He speaks with Armin Rosen about the threats from Gaza, Hizballah, and Iran:

For Israel’s entire existence, would-be peacemakers have argued that the key to regional harmony is the reduction of the Jewish state’s hard power through territorial withdrawals and/or the legitimization of the country’s non-state enemies. In Amidror’s view, reality has thoroughly debunked this line of reasoning.

Amidror believes peace—or calm, at least—came as a result of Israeli muscle. Israel proved to its former enemies in the Sunni Arab world that it’s powerful enough to fill the vacuum left by America’s exit from the region and to stand up to Iran on the rest of the Middle East’s behalf. “The stronger Israel is, the more the ability of Arab countries to cooperate [with it] grows,” Amidror explained. On the whole, Amidror said he’s “very optimistic. I remember the threat that we faced when we were young. We fought the Six-Day War and I remember the Yom Kippur War, and I see what we are facing today. We have only one-and-a-half problems. One problem is Iran, and the half-problem is Hizballah.” . . .

In all likelihood the next Israeli-Iranian confrontation will be a clash with Amidror’s half-threat: the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hizballah, Iran’s most effective proxy in the Middle East and perhaps the best armed non-state military force on earth. . . . “We should neutralize the military capability of Hizballah,” [in the event of war], he said. “We should not destroy the organization as a political tool. If the Shiites want these people to represent them, it’s their problem.” . . .

“It will be a very nasty war,” Amidror said. “A very, very nasty war.” Hizballah will fire “thousands and thousands” of long-range missiles of improved precision, speed, and range at Israeli population centers, a bombardment larger than Israel’s various layers of missile defense will be able to neutralize in full. . . . This will, [however], be a blow Israel can withstand. “Israelis will be killed, no question,” Amidror said. “But it’s not going to be catastrophic.”

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Lebanon