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Israel: The Air War Over Syria
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May 8, 2013: Israel says it does not want to get involved in the Syrian rebellion and only launched two recent air strikes on Syria to prevent Iranian weapons from being moved to southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah could use them against Israel. The Syrian rebels have been asking NATO, or anyone, to provide them with air support. So far NATO is not willing and pro-rebel Arab states believe they are not able.

The two weapons involved here were Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft systems and Fateh-110 long range rockets. The Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft system missiles would make it more difficult (but not impossible) for Israeli aircraft and helicopters to operate over Hezbollah controlled territory. These Russian systems, which are mounted on an 8x8 truck, were bought by Syria with Iranian money and some were shipped to Iran. Each Pantsir-S1 vehicle carries radar, two 30mm cannon, and twelve Tunguska missiles. The 90 kg (198 pound) Tunguska has a twenty kilometer range while the Pantsir-S1 radar has a 30 kilometer range. The missile can hit targets at up to 8,400 meters (26,000 feet) high. The 30mm cannon are effective up to 3,200 meters (10,000 feet). The vehicles used to carry all the Pantsir-S1 can vary, but the most common one used weighs 20 tons and has a crew of three.

The longer ranged Fateh-110 rockets are also a serious matter. Three years ago Israel told Syria that if Hezbollah used the new Fateh-110 missiles that they were receiving from Syria Israel would bomb Syria. The three ton, solid fuel, ballistic missiles have a range of 250 kilometers and carry a half ton warhead. These longer range missiles, that can reach all of Israel’s major cities, are a primary target for Israeli forces in any future war with Hezbollah.

Syria responded to these Israeli attacks by threatening retaliation, but there’s not much Syria can do at this point except make threats. Meanwhile, Israeli troops are increasingly seen training near the Lebanese and Syrian borders. Israel believes Iran might order Hezbollah to attack Israel, in order to help the beleaguered Assad government in Syria. This would be a desperation measure but the Israelis are preparing for the worst.

Egypt has condemned Israeli air strikes in Syria but has otherwise sought to keep things quiet on the Israeli border and especially in Gaza. Egypt is still concerned about anti-Egyptian Islamic terrorists in Sinai and the sanctuary some of those terrorists seem to still enjoy in Gaza. Egypt also revealed that in the last two years it has discovered 276 smuggling tunnels from Gaza and destroyed 56 percent of them. This is an improvement on the Mubarak government that was deposed two years ago. Now the Egyptians are making more efforts to halt the smuggling of weapons and terrorists in and out of Gaza via the tunnels.

Responding to Israeli pressure, Hamas has shifted more of its security forces to shutting down the smaller and more radical Islamic terrorist groups and suppressing popular demonstrations against Hamas rule in Gaza. Israeli officials revealed that they have been quietly holding regular meetings with Hamas to discuss security matters and coordinate efforts against groups that continue to launch rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.

May 7, 2013: In Sinai police arrested a man suspected of being an informant for Israel. This is the sixth such arrest in the last month.

In Syria, near the Israeli border, four UN peacekeepers were seized by Islamic radical rebels in the area. The rebels said they did this to prevent nearby Syrian soldiers from harming the peacekeepers. This appears to be another attempt to intimidate the peacekeepers, who are supposed to keep an eye on what’s going on near the Israeli border (which the UN watches as part of the peace deal with Syria after the 1973 war).

May 5, 2013: Israeli warplanes destroyed several targets in Syria. One was a weapons development compound outside Damascus, and this triggered much larger explosions, indicating that the Israeli missile had set off weapons (perhaps Fateh-110 rockets and their warheads) being stored there.

May 3, 2013: Israeli warplanes destroyed several targets in Syria.

May 2, 2013: In Gaza Islamic terrorists fired two rockets at Israel, at the same time Hamas was arresting more Islamic terrorists believed responsible for ceasefire violations. Near the Gaza border Egyptian police seized 40 new BMW automobiles on trailers that were apparently about to be smuggled into Gaza (via bribes). Police received a tip that a major Egyptian businessman, heavily involved with smuggling goods into Gaza, was going to sneak the cars into Gaza (where there is a growing market for luxury goods). All that foreign aid doesn’t just go for food and medicine.

April 30, 2013: An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed an Islamic terrorist (Haitham Ziyad al Mishal), who was apparently behind the firing of two rockets at the southern Israel city Eilat on April 17th. Mishal was known as an expert on building and firing rockets, as well as organizing rocket attacks. Mishal was one of the guys Hamas was trying to calm down and not keep breaking the Hamas ceasefire with Israel. Hamas did not express much happiness at the death of Mishal. This air attack was technically in response to a mortar shell being fired into Israel from Gaza yesterday but was a single missile fired at Mishal, as he was on a motorcycle in sparsely populated northern Gaza.

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