By Sarah Stern
Over the weekend, a series of extremely significant events happened in the skies over northern Israel and Syria. An Iranian drone, dispatched from Syria, flew over the Golan Heights, violating Israeli sovereignty and Israeli airspace. Within one minute, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) downed the drone, and immediately embarked on a military campaign that struck at Iranian military sites inside Syria.
The Israeli military’s response was excellent. It was immediate. It was direct. And it was harsh. It struck down 12 military targets within Syria, which included four Syrian defense missile batteries, and four Iranian sites. Unfortunately, one IAF jet was downed and its pilot remains in serious condition.
On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting, “I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel. This morning, Iran brazenly violated Israel’s sovereignty. They dispatched an Iranian drone from Syrian territory into Israel. This demonstrates that our warnings were 100% correct. Israel holds Iran and its Syrian hosts responsible for today’s aggression. We will continue to do whatever is necessary to protect our sovereignty and our security.”
According to Amos Yadlin, the Executive Director of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, who spoke on a conference call for The Israel Project, this recent military action “is perhaps the most serious event since the second Lebanese war or the alleged Israeli attack on the Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007. It is serious because for the first time we have targeted Iranian sites in Syria, and a lot [of] Iranian bases, which leads Damascus exposed. The rules of the game are not changing. There is a determination by Iran to build a serious military force inside Syria and Lebanon, and we have a serious determination not to allow this to happen.”
Thanks to the disastrous Iranian nuclear deal, the Iranians are using much of their recently acquired wealth to build factories inside Syria and Lebanon. The Iranian mullahs, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Russia’s Putin are all using what is left of the decimated country of Syria, after its protracted seven year civil war, to flex their muscles.
This is a very dangerous situation.
The Iranians are turning Syria into a Shiite military base and weapons factory. Many of these weapons are being transferred directly into the hands of Hezbollah.
According to MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, the Lebanese, pro-Hezbollah website Dahiya boasted that Hezbollah has 70,000 missiles ready to launch at Israel, and by the end of the year, they will have 500,000.
Unfortunately, much of the Sunni world, who is just as fearful of an Iranian crescent as Israel is, is sitting back and letting Israel do its job (although I am certain they are applauding).
But Israel knows what it has to do to survive in the Middle East. And it has never been easy. Now, thanks to the newly enriched and emboldened Iran, the Levant might become the theater in which the attempt for Shiite hegemony will have to be confronted.
Watch this space.
Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun