israeli strikes

Israeli strike in Syria might be first in series

by Joel Greenberg and Babak Dehghanpisheh, Washington Post  |  published on February 11, 2013

Israel’s recent airstrike in Syria, which according to Western officials targeted weapons destined for the militant Lebanese group Hezbollah, could mark the start of a more aggressive campaign by Israel to prevent arms transfers as conditions in Syria deteriorate, according to analysts in Israel and Lebanon.

Israel’s readiness to strike again if necessary heralds a new and more volatile phase in the regional repercussions of Syria’s civil war, which has raised concerns in Israel about the possible transfer of advanced or nonconventional weapons to Islamist militant groups.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak all but acknowledged that Israel carried out the strike near Damascus on Jan. 30, saying it was “proof that when we say something we mean it.” An Israeli cabinet minister had warned before the attack that Israel could act against transfers of chemical weapons to militant groups.

Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence who directs the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said in an interview that while future Israeli action could be expected, it would depend on specific calculations of the advantages and risks of such strikes.

Four types of weapons

Israel, he said, has defined four types of weapons whose transfer to militant groups would not be tolerated: advanced air defense systems, ballistic missiles, sophisticated shore-to-sea missiles and chemical weapons.

In accordance with this policy, Yadlin said, “any time Israel will have reliable intelligence that this is going to be transferred from Syria to Lebanon, it will act,” although specific decisions to strike would be subject to assessments of the military value of the attack, the risk of escalation and the positions of foreign powers.

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