Last Friday, a senior Iranian general confirmed that the Islamic Republic was manufacturing weapons including rockets in Aleppo and that some of those rockets were transferred to Hezbollah, bolstering the terror group’s already formidable stockpiles. The revelation of Iranian military production facilities in a foreign country was the first such acknowledgement by a senior Iranian official.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Army, Major General Mohammad Bagheri noted that Iran’s production of missiles in Syria began in 2002 and that rockets manufactured at the Aleppo facility were transferred to Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War also known as the Second Lebanon War. During that 33-day conflict, Hezbollah fired in excess of 4,000 rockets at Israel. Since the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah, primarily with Iranian assistance, has increased its rocket and missile arsenal tenfold, from 12,000 to an estimated 120,000.
The general’s acknowledgement provides us with some sense of how entrenched the Iranians are in Syria and how they’re utilizing Syrian resources to supply their proxies. It is believed that the Iranians are employing between 7,000 to 10,000 Hezbollah operatives in Syria. Hezbollah represents one of four foreign pillars propping up the Assad regime and his flagging army. Iran maintains a military force of between 13,000 to 16,000 soldiers and, aside from Hezbollah, is believed to have recruited some 40,000 foreign fighters from Middle Eastern and Central Asian states. Russia maintains a sizable air and naval presence in Syria, supplemented by Special Forces and electronic warfare specialists.
Israel is watching these developments with keen interest. The Israelis are cooperating closely with the Russians to ensure that that their respective military forces, particularly their air forces don’t mistakenly tangle over the skies of Syria. The last time Israel dueled with the Russians was in July 1970 over the skies of the Suez Canal, during the height of the Cold War. Five Soviet MiG-21 fighters were shot down by Israeli F-4 Phantoms and Mirage jets. But so far, the Israelis and the Russians have managed to avoid hostile encounters with each other due to unprecedented cooperation between their respective military and political leaders.
Israel is more concerned with Iranian and Hezbollah involvement. Israel has made clear to both of these terror entities that it will not tolerate the formation of terror bases opposite the Israeli-held Golan Heights. In January 2015, the Israelis demonstrated their resolve when they liquidated 12 senior Iranian and Hezbollah operatives reconnoitering on the border. Among those killed in the strike was Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the infamous Imad Mughniyeh (killed in a joint U.S. – Israeli cloak and dagger operation in Damascus in 2008) and Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a ranking IRGC officer believed to be a ballistic missile expert and indispensable to Iranian operations in Syria and Lebanon.
For now at least, it appears that the Iranians and their Hezbollah proxies have gotten the memo but that could be temporary and attributed to their heavy involvement against Syrian rebels in and around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, far removed from the Golan heights. The Israelis are also concerned with Hezbollah’s increasingly sophisticated operational capabilities and acquisition of more advanced weaponry.
Iran has used Syria as a conduit to supply Hezbollah with long-range surface-to-surface missiles and Russian surface-to-ship Yakhont cruise missiles. The Israeli Air Force, acting on precise intelligence, has launched numerous airstrikes with good effect aimed at interdicting the flow of these weapons. Despite some success, it is believed that some missiles managed to get through to the Shia terror group.
Of equal concern to Israel is Hezbollah’s exposure to Russian tactical capabilities, including its cyber and electronic warfare capabilities as well as its Special Forces operations. When Hezbollah entered the Syrian civil war, Israel did not shed any tears when Hezbollah operatives were returned to Lebanon in body bags. Indeed, Hezbollah is believed to have lost 10 percent of its total fighting force while mired in its Syrian quagmire. But while Hezbollah is bleeding, it is gaining combat experience that might, at some point in the future, be used against Israel.
Russia, in concert with Iran and Hezbollah, is coordinating and planning large scale operations in Syria and there is no doubt that Hezbollah has become the beneficiary of such exposure by gaining invaluable military experience in a vast array of military disciplines. As noted in Defense News, a report compiled by Dima Adamsky, an associate professor at Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya and a research fellow at the Israel Defense Force’s National Security College, concludes that technical lessons learned by Hezbollah in its Syrian campaign might be employed in future confrontations with Israel.
Israel for its part is not resting on its laurels. The IDF has formed special commando and counter insurgency units specifically to deal with Hezbollah and has invested heavily in anti-tunneling technologies and methods. The armored corps has equipped its vehicles with the Trophy and Windbreaker active defense systems adding a further measure of protection against anti-tank rockets and missiles. Israel’s vaunted signal intelligence and cyber warfare Unit 8200 is constantly upgrading is capabilities while Israel’s military intelligence has been busy mapping out every inch of Lebanon and Syria for targeting.
For now, it appears that Hezbollah is stuck in Syria’s quicksand with no quick and easy victories in sight but should it ever extricate itself from its Syrian quagmire and turn its attention to Israel, Israel will be ready, willing and able to oblige the terror group.
A Sa’ar 4.5-class Corvette of the Israeli Navy fires its canons during a naval exercise off the coast of Israel.
Israel’s Defense Ministry on Sunday announced a series of deals for the purchase of combat systems from local defense industries in the amount of $420 million by the end of this year. This is part of a project to acquire warships whose mission would to protect natural gas platforms within Israel’s “economic waters” in the Mediterranean against military threats.
An Israeli soldier training in Krav Maga.
Several dozen members of the Indian military are currently learning how to protect themselves using the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga, India Today reported this weekend.
“I brought Krav Maga to India in year 2002 after intensive training in Israel,” Vikram Kapoor — the head instructor at the International Krav Maga Federation — was quoted as saying. “This is the only self-defense technique that is being evolved every moment and that is why it is the best.”
Culminating a three-year process, delegates at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Orlando on Thursday adopted a resolution titled “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine,” with approximately 98 percent voting in favor. The resolution calls on members to “avoid purchase of products associated with the occupation or produced in settlements in occupied territories.” It also establishes a process for the church to review its investments “for the purpose of withdrawing investments from companies that are profiting from the occupation.”
Rabbi Steven Wernick says Netanyahu recruited progressive Jews to find a compromise for the holy site; now that the PM has reneged, world Jewry won’t be silent
The fight for pluralistic prayer at the Western Wall is a battle already won by Jewry’s Conservative movement. For some 20 years, Conservative Jews have inhabited a spiritual home at Jerusalem’s contentious holy site, which they won through a series of Supreme Court cases — in a section allocated to the Davidson Archaeological
Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. (Photo credit: hebron.com)
In a secret ballot held at the World Heritage Committee’s 41st annual summit in Krakow Poland, on Friday, UNESCO voted twelve to three in favor declaring the Holy City of Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs “Palestinian world heritage sites”.
The resolution described a Muslim history of the city while blatantly ignoring the Biblical narrative describing 3,000 years of Jewish connection to the site. Six countries abstained from the controversial vote which, at the request of Poland, Croatia, and Jamaica, was a secret ballot; a first for such a vote.
During last month’s 2017 Chicago Dyke March, the true face of “inclusion” among “progressives” finally surfaced. According to the Chicago based newspaper Windy City Times, the march proceeded calmly with people “of all races, genders and gender identities” attending, until “the Dyke March Collective ejected three people carrying Jewish Pride flags (a rainbow flag with a Star of David in the center).”
Something is terribly broken in the relationship between American and Israeli Jews. I say this as an American Jew who has lived in Israel for almost half a century. But if anyone thinks this started with Women of the Wall or PM Netanyahu’s recent – and I believe unfortunate – backtracking on the agreement over egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, he is suffering from selective memory, if not total denial.
gentleman from times gone by. He was soft-spoken, courtly, and wore his pants hoisted high and held up by suspenders; clearly, a European who had personally endured horrors in the last century.
Indeed, he had personally survived the Holocaust in Poland. Therefore, I could not immediately understand why he now attends a very left-wing synagogue—but, totally incomprehensible, was his unexpected and rather passionate defense of Poland and of the Poles. He argued on their behalf as if his very life still depended upon it.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords’ signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
Matthew Healy at the Atlantic, one of the few remaining liberal anti-censorship magazines, offers a disingenuous counterpoint to the debate over political correctness.
The attempts to silence dissenting points of view are counter-speech, according to Healy. And counter-speech is an important form of free expression.