Israeli raids and air strikes have recently increased deep into the Syrian territories. According to Israeli media and research centres reports, these attacks target Iranian weapons before parts of them are transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The reports state that the missiles are particularly advanced and accurate and could potentially undermine Israel’s strategic domiance and enable Iranian proxies to target anywhere in Israel.
On Wednesday, military analyst in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Alex Fishman, said that in the wake of these Israeli attacks, the “hidden war” of Israel against Iran in the Syrian territories has been disclosed.
He wrote: “We have to get used to the idea that Israel is apparently engaged in a military confrontation, disciplined in the meantime, against an Iranian military regime that is stabilizing in Syria. The Cabinet of Israel (Israeli security government), which has recently discussed the Israeli policy in the northern front against Syria, Lebanon and Iran, has probably came to this exact conclusion.”
Last year, Israeli reports talked about the possibility of Iran establishing air, sea and land bases in Syria and pushing “Shiite militias” into military activities against Israel. Fishman suggested that “Israel cannot ignore such threats, but they do not form the real military challenge. The main problem with the Syrian front is the establishment of a dense system of surface-to-surface missiles and precision rocket-propelled missiles that begin from Lebanon and extend to the south of Golan and cover the entire Israeli territory. Such scenario puts Israel against an unprecedented challenge. At the same time, Iranians are establishing a missile front in Gaza, which forces the Israeli army to divide efforts in fighting against short-range missiles from the north and south.”
Fishman added that in case Russians and Americans are not able or willing to prevent this in diplomatic ways, “it seems that Israel has no choice but to act on its own, and it is no longer possible to hide behind vague statements and insinuations. This is a war in every sense of the word. The enemy has to know this, and most importantly, the public in Israel must understand this and prepare for this situation.”
Following the statements of Israeli officials, including Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman who described Syria and Lebanon as one front and called it the Northern Front, Fishman concluded that “the war against these regimes will continue with a changing force and related to the Syrian-Iranian reaction and Hezbollah. If none of these forces would retreat, a war might erupt. There are still no signs of a retreat of the Iranian side.” He went on: “In the past two years, Iran has succeeded in existing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen and deepened its influence in Oman and Bahrain. The Iranian administration – especially the Islamic Revolutionary Guard – is in a state of ecstasy because of the sense of victory in Syria.”
From another side, military analysts and Arab affairs analysts in the Israeli media considered that the Syrian army’s issuance of a statement on the Israeli attack on Tuesday and other precedent attacks would send a warning message to Israel from a Syrian reaction, though the regime army’s statement claimed that its anti-missiles system intercepted the Israeli missiles.
On Wednesday, military analyst in Israel Hayom newspaper, Yoav Limor, wrote that “this statement should be worrisome because it is another stage in the process of increasing the renewed self-confidence of Al-Assad and his army. Meanwhile, Israel seems to be doing what it wants in Syria. It is attacking what it wants, where it wants and when it wants. However, this is not an eternal immunity. Any side might counterattack at any time.”
Limor went on: “There is no such side at the current time.” He also pointed out that “Israel will try to take advantage of Al-Assad’s preoccupation with recovering from the war and Iran’s preoccupation with the elimination of internal protests in order to improve its positions. Although Iran is strategically planning to stabilise itself in Syria, its recent efforts to practically implement this have been foiled by the attack on the military base that it has established in Damascus (bombed by Israel on Tuesday morning). It is not clear when Iranians will resume their efforts, but in Israel they are preparing to face this.”
Limor pointed to the annual intelligence assessment of the Israeli army, which predicted that there is little possibility of a war to be initiated. However, there are high possibilities of an unplanned escalation. “Such escalation could develop from an Israeli attack in Syria, including attacks that have quietly passed so far, and in the future, there might be those who would respond to them.”