Israel: Syria Under Siege

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p> September 18, 2007:  Israel has still not admitted what it's F-15s were bombing in northern Syria on September 6th. Syria complained bitterly, the media speculated and the government said nothing. This caused a spike in popularity polls for Israeli officials, which may have been the main objective of the operation. There are plenty of targets in Syria, like shipments of weapons for Hizbollah, or new Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. Nuclear weapons were also mentioned. But it's all speculation, and all that Israeli officials will talk about is the Israeli ability to hit their enemies anywhere, at any time. 

 

In Gaza,  Hamas continues attacking public demonstrations by Fatah supporters. Hamas is under the spotlight here, and would lose much of the little international support it has, if it came down hard on the local Fatah opposition (by killing Fatah supporters until that support went deep underground). Meanwhile, the Hamas supporters in the West Bank, more outnumbered than Fatah is in Gaza, have kept their heads down.   Israeli raids are being conducted into southern, as well as northern, Gaza.  Israeli intelligence officials believe Hamas is planning a major terror attack against Israel before the end of the year. Hamas has to do something. It is losing control in Gaza, is impotent in the West Bank, and outside help is slow in coming. Unwilling to back down on its pro-terrorist politics, Hamas apparently wants to move forward with its call for the destruction of Israel.

 

In Lebanon, police continue to hunt down and arrest Palestinian and Syrian terrorists who escaped the siege  near Tripoli. Several dozen terrorists hid in the bombed out town after the siege ended, or managed to slip away. But the terrorists have little local support, and are being turned in by civilians. The police are particularly interested in the Islamic terrorists from Syria, who were apparently the chief proponents of the violence that led to the siege. Three of these Syrians have been captured in the last week. Lebanon already has the UN closing in on Syrians who were assassinating Lebanese politicians, and now this.  But that's not the only problem in Syria. In 2003, Syria was quick to provide sanctuary for Iraqi officials fleeing war crimes prosecution for Saddam era misdeeds. At first, it was only the wealthy government officials. But in the last year, thousands of low level operatives, and many more Sunni Arabs fleeing  growing Shia anger against all Sunnis because of terror attacks, have crowded into Syria. There are now over a million of these Iraqi refugees in Syria. Most of these Iraqis are poor, and Syria has not got the resources to deal with the problem. So, just like hordes of Palestinian refugees eventually  destabilized Lebanon and triggered a long civil war, Syria fears the same fate.  To the average Syrian, the problems on the ground are far more threatening than Israeli F-15s overhead.

 


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