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Three days in a row, the Israeli side of the Israeli-Syrian border has been attacked by Syrian forces. Reports indicate that the attacks have been launched by regular Syrian troops – not by rebels or the terrorists who have attached themselves to the rebels (and, at this point, those two things may be indistinguishable from each other). The Syrians claimed earlier this week that they had destroyed an Israeli vehicle that crossed the border and had killed “everyone in it.” The Israelis explained that an IDF vehicle on the Israeli side of the Golan had been shot at and had returned fire. Chalk up another transparent, silly lie for the Syrian regime.
With his country in chaos and rebel/terrorist forces eating the organs of his soldiers, why would Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad pick a fight with the most powerful military in the region? The answer depends on whether or not he is doing anything of the sort.
Assad’s regime has been the victim of some high-profile defections and desertions. No one knows the extent of the control he has over his commanders. At every level of Syrian society, hatred of the Jewish state runs deep, so it’s entirely possible that a Syrian officer on the Israeli border has decided to fire at Israel without the knowledge or permission of the regime. (Or, at least, that that’s how it started a few days ago and now, loathe to be seen as less willing to attack Israel than one of his commanders, Assad is – to coin a phrase – leading from behind).
The other possibility is that Assad wants to pick a fight with Israel knowing that Israel isn’t the least bit interested in a prolonged conflict with Syria, that the U.N. and others will try to keep the muzzle on any Israeli response, and that attacking Israel is a sure way to get good press and street cred in the Arab and Muslim world. Even if Israel hits back, there’s a lot of upside for Assad and relatively little downside – assuming Israel’s…Read More » Comments (4) »
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 at 9:11 AM | Stand For Israel
Yonah Jeremy Bob, writing at the Jerusalem Post, says that Israel may not have very much to worry about from the recent criminal charges filed against the Jewish State by a Turkish law firm at the International Criminal Court based on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident. In fact, rather than being a serious legal issue, the goal might be to scuttle the nascent Israeli-Turkish détente.
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So four years after starting a still-unsuccessful campaign to bring Israel before the ICC – including achieving statehood recognition from the UN General Assembly – the Palestinians and their supporters may have found an unlikely end-run to give Israel legal headaches. How worried should Israel be? Well, Comoros’s filing gets past the statehood threshold problem that has been holding up the Palestinians so far; no one says Comoros is not a state. But the statehood issue is only one of several jurisdictional- threshold questions that can stop a case from going from a preliminary examination to a full investigation, an on to an indictment.
Friday, May 17th, 2013 at 9:23 AM | Stand For Israel
We haven’t spent much time talking about the decision of world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking to join in an academic boycott of Israel, but this piece by David Pryce-Jones, writing at National Review, was too good to pass up. Pryce-Jones notes the connection between Hawking and anti-Israel/anti-American “academic” Noam Chomsky, as well as a few other nuggets.
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Politics is not his line. He happily visited China and Iran without making statements about civil rights. He couldn’t communicate at all without a machine containing a chip designed in Israel — so will he boycott himself? His decision seemed more and more inexplicable until it was revealed that as many as 20 academics had lobbied him to stay away from Israel and one of them was Noam Chomsky.
Thursday, May 16th, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Stand For Israel
Yaakov Lappin of the Jerusalem Post writes that the budget cuts being considered in Israel – including significant cuts in military spending – could have a serious impact on Israel’s readiness for war. While SFI typically avoids matters of internal Israeli politics – and we take no position on the Israeli budget – we thought you would like to know that Israel is having this debate.
Defense officials are also concerned about the prospect of damage being caused to training programs designed to get soldiers – both reservists and conscripts – ready for battle, the need for which is one of the main lessons learned from the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Since 2006, the IDF has doubled the training time for its ground forces, and commanders in the field have been instructed to assume that war could break out on their watch.
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Monday, May 13th, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Stand For Israel
Lee Smith, writing at The Weekly Standard, says that Israel’s strategic view of the conflict in Syria – including the recent Israeli airstrikes against targets in Damascus – is that it is part of the regional Iranian problem. Smith wonders why, with American policy in Syria so muddled, the U.S. doesn’t try viewing things the same way:
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Even as Assad has threatened vengeance, Israel has explained that it was not going after him and has no interest in interfering in Syria’s civil war but is simply determined to stop Hezbollah from receiving “game-changing” weapons. The advantages in striking from outside Syrian airspace are operational and diplomatic. Avoiding Syria’s Russian-made air defense systems minimizes the threats to Israeli pilots and planes. It also eliminates the likelihood of embarrassing, in no particular order: Russia, whose prestige is on the line every time once of its systems is foiled, Turkey, which lost a jet last year to Syrian air defenses, and the White House, which has repeatedly expressed its concerns about Syria’s “world-class” air defense. Israel hardly wishes to publicize the fact that if it can circumvent those systems, as it has in the past, there’s no good reason a much more powerful United States can’t also.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013 at 8:37 AM | Stand For Israel
Two mortars from Syria landed in the Golan this evening. Although they are both believed to have been caused by errant fire, the tensions between Syria and Israel are especially heightened after the airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force on arms shipments from Syria to Hezbollah.
More details from YNet News:
Two mortar shells fired Monday afternoon during battles between the Syrian army and rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad’s regime exploded in an open area near the border fence in the southern Golan Heights region, near Ramat Magshimim. Another mortar landed in Syrian territory.
No injuries were reported in the incident, which was apparently the result of errant fire.
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Monday, May 6th, 2013 at 3:02 PM | Stand For Israel
Mitch Ginsburg, writing at the Times of Israel, has a brilliant but worrying account of why Israel spent the weekend attacking arms shipments headed from Syria to the Lebanese terror group, Hezbollah. Ginsburg says that, while the weaponry may meet the “red-line” criteria laid out by Israel weeks ago, other factors were certainly considered.
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The Iranian-developed missiles have a 250-300 kilometer range, carry a 500-600 kilogram warhead — depending on the model — and, significantly, have a relatively advanced guidance system, making them more precise than the heavier and more lethal Scud D…Alon Ben-David, Channel 10s military analyst, said Sunday night that this combination of range (meaning most of Israel could be hit from southern Lebanon), accuracy (enabling the targeting of specific installations), and warhead size (large enough to take down a bloc, not merely a building) — in the fourth generation model that was en route to Hezbollah — was what made this missile shipment so dangerous.
Monday, May 6th, 2013 at 8:54 AM | Stand For Israel
Although Israel hasn’t confirmed, it appears they have launched an air strike on a weapons facility in Syria. The story is still unfolding, but here’s the initial report from Times of Israel:
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The strike on Syria occurred overnight Thursday into Friday, the US officials told The Associated Press Friday night. According to a source quoted by Reuters in a report Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet for secret talks on Thursday night, hours before the strike.
It did not appear that a chemical weapons site was targeted, said the US officials, and one official said the strike appeared to have hit a warehouse.
Saturday, May 4th, 2013 at 10:09 AM | Stand For Israel
Seth Mandel, writing at Commentary, has an excellent piece about the murder yesterday of an Israeli civilian at a bus stop, Israel’s response, and what both events can teach us about the broader conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and even about the two cultures in which the conflict exists.
The Israeli victim was a father of five waiting at a bus stop. The Palestinian victim was reportedly a manufacturer of rockets for use against Israeli civilians and employed by Hamas, according to the terrorist group itself. He was, according to the press here and in Israel, involved in the recent rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Eilat.
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Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 at 9:00 AM | Stand For Israel