News / Middle East

    Israel Vows to Deny Hezbollah Arms as Details of Syria Raid Emerge

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, Aug. 4, 2013.
    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during weekly cabinet meeting, Jerusalem, Aug. 4, 2013.
    VOA News
    Israel said it would not allow advanced weapons to fall into the hands of Hezbollah, after a raid on Syria that opposition sources said had hit an air force garrison believed to be holding Russian-made missiles destined for the militant group.
     
    Israel has a clear policy on Syria and will continue to enforce it, officials said on Friday, after U.S. sources said Israel had launched a new attack on its warring neighbor.
     
    Israel declined to comment on leaks to U.S. media that its planes had hit a Syrian base near the port of Latakia, targeting missiles that it thought were destined for its Lebanese enemy, Hezbollah.

    Souria, Latakia, Syria
    “We have said many times that we will not allow the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah,” said Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of the inner security cabinet which met hours before the alleged Israeli attack.
     
    “We are sticking to this policy and I say so without denying or confirming this report,” he told Israel Radio.
     
    Israel is believed to have attacked targets in Syria on at least four occasions this year, the last time in July, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying he would not let sophisticated anti-aircraft, anti-ship and long-range missiles move from the hands of Syria to its Hezbollah ally.
     
    A Latakia activist told Reuters that an explosion had rocked a garrison area that houses an air force brigade loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad near Snobar Jableh village mid-afternoon on Oct. 30.
     
    The activist, who calls himself Khaled, said there was a “total media blackout” about the incident, though ambulance sirens were heard rushing to the scene.
     
    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quoted sources as saying there were four or five explosions at the base, but only limited damage reported. Al-Arabiya news network said SAM 8 anti-aircraft missiles were destroyed.
     
    Former Syrian intelligence agent Afaq Ahmad, a defector now in exile in France, told Reuters on Thursday that contacts of his inside Syria, including in Latakia province, told him Russian-made ballistic missiles had been kept at the site that was attacked.
     
    Assad's forces, backed by Hezbollah and Iran, are battling rebels in a civil war that has killed well over 100,000.
     
    Khaled said Assad loyalists were frustrated about Israel's apparent impunity, recalling that the Syrian president had previously indicated Syria would respond to further attacks.
     
    “Yet Israel keeps hitting us and there's no retaliation. So even the staunchest loyalists are getting very upset,” he said.
     
    Irritation between allies
     
    Israel deliberately remains silent over its actions in Syria to keep a lid on tensions and try to avoid pushing Assad into a corner where he would feel compelled to respond.
     
    Locals said they did not hear warplanes at the time of the blasts and there was initial confusion about who was behind the attack. One source, who declined to be named, said the limited damage on the ground suggested pin-point missile strikes.
     
    A foreign diplomat said that in the past the Israelis had succeeded in creating such confusion by using stand-off ordnance — missiles or gliding bombs that can be released many miles from the target.
     
    There was clear irritation in Israel about the U.S. leaks, which analysts said might signal irritation in Washington over Israeli action at a time when Syria had bowed to international pressure and was dismantling its large chemical weapons arsenal.
     
    “Washington is selling our secrets on the cheap,” said top-selling Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
     
    Israel has grown increasingly frustrated by U.S. policy in the Middle East, worried that President Barack Obama had been too soft on Assad and anxious over his rapprochement with Iran.
     
    Uzi Rabi, director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University, said Israel had to make many calculations before approving attacks on Syria.
     
    “Israel is sending a message to Assad, saying 'don't play games with us,' but Israel must also realize that the situation is becoming much more delicate than ever before, because this is going against the U.S. diplomatic agenda,” he said.
     
    Rabi said the “working assumption” in Israel was that Assad was so focused on battling rebels that he could not afford to retaliate. However, he expected that Syria would seek international support to prevent Israeli air strikes.
     
    A senior Israeli official, while declining to confirm any Israeli attack, did not expect Syria to respond.
     
    “Assad is disarming [his chemical weapons] out of his own interests. He knows how to make the necessary distinctions,” said the official, who declined to be named.
     
    Technically at war with Syria, Israel spent decades in a stable standoff with Damascus while the Assad family ruled unchallenged. It has been reluctant to intervene openly in the 33-month Islamist-dominated insurgency rocking Syria, however is determined not to see Hezbollah profit from the unrest.
     
    Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill in a 34-day war six years ago. Israel has warned that any future conflict will be much more brutal.

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    Comments
         
    by: olaoye abayomi from: ibadan Nigeria
    November 04, 2013 7:37 AM
    I strongly support the calculation of Israel.You must not sleep off even when your enemy is at sleep it might be a ploy on his part.If Assad is left to transfer those dangerous weapon to Hezbollah it will spell a major doom for Israel.The world is watching the Butcher of Syria as the battle enfolds but surely victory will come not only through the blood of the innocent women and children that has been slain by Syrian forces,Hezbollah,Iran and the Russian backer.I want Assad to remember his Libyan Brother that relates his people to" COCKROACHES" but end up in sewage pipe.

    by: PermReader
    November 02, 2013 1:06 PM
    Obama always confuses America`s allies with its enemies and on the contrary.How tempting would be to draw Israel in conflict with Syria! This can stop her strike on Iran`s nuclear objects!

    by: Cao TingTing from: China
    November 02, 2013 5:46 AM
    Syria is a Russia's ally, why Russia dares not do anything to punish Israel for its evil actions? How coward are the Russians. They cannot even protect their friends. It is high time for China to intervine and teach Israel a leason.
    In Response

    by: Boris from: Russia
    November 02, 2013 11:07 AM
    yeah sure... spoken like an Iranian... keep dreaming... and when you wake up you just might find yourself slaughtered by an Arab...

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 01, 2013 2:30 PM
    Israel had better understand it has not friendship with USA under the present circumstances. Mr. Obama has proved time without number his preference for Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or any other Arab country for Israel, though we cannot say that is the general feeling in USA. Rather than blame himself for failure to prosecute his red line on Syria's use of chemical weapons,

    Mr. Obama would want to take it out on Israel standing by its vows NEVER AGAIN to allow massive loss of Jewish lives owing to senseless deployment of strategic weapons to hezbollah, or antisemitism from the White House, which will mindlessly leak Israel to its enemies. Israel has only acted in self defense, nothing more, nothing less. But Assad however is still preferable to the opposition and should perhaps have been warned when it was realized that he made plans to send such weapons to hezbollah. But I can't fault Israel for its decision to keep safe, whether its unfriendly allies wish it or not.

    by: Ammett from: Boise. ID
    November 01, 2013 1:28 PM
    Hezbollah is one at the end who is going to liberate the Muslim's Holy City of Jerusalem.
    They are well determined, well trained, well organized and dedicated to deal with israel
    In Response

    by: Kassahun Bejirond from: Ethiopia
    November 02, 2013 6:10 PM
    Hezbollah is a bunch of schizophrenic, hot tempered, so called islamists, who rape helpless immigrant maids as they did in Beirut Lebanon. I believe and hope Muslims are better than that. The fact is, even any amateur historian knows that Jerusalem and all its holy places belong to the Jews and only to the Jews. We Christians and any other group including muslins should be begging nicely to rent that they let us rent or occupy a worship place. Jerusalem was never and will never belong to any muslins. As it was written "But I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be a king over my people Israel."
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 01, 2013 2:33 PM
    Let them start and let's see where, how far it gets. Jerusalem belongs to Israel, nuts.

    by: rbockman from: Philly
    November 01, 2013 1:12 PM
    sounds like a good plan

    by: Roy from: Virginia
    November 01, 2013 1:02 PM
    The world has already said to Israel at the end of the 1967 war that it had no right to preemptively defend herself. When the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies massed on its 3 borders, and clearly were about to launch a concerted attack within hours, Israel's preemptive strike was not legal in the minds of those countries and much of the rest of the world. "The 3 countries had not in fact attacked you, therefore, you were the aggressor, Israel." That being the case, Israel has no right today to prevent an enemy force sworn to her destruction to amass weapons designed to that end. According to the world, Israel (but no country other than Israel) must sit on her hands. Period.
    In Response

    by: Simon from: India
    November 02, 2013 8:27 AM
    You are 100% correct Mr. Roy! That's the way of this world!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    November 01, 2013 2:31 PM
    very well said!

    by: Ali from: Lebanon
    November 01, 2013 12:58 PM
    Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, their killing Syrian with the Murderer Al asaad. Though when Israel strikes the shipment, their only looking after themselves, while they neglect the humans being slaughters. Even if they might be doing some good, everyone disgusts me when they turn their head to Syria.

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