Alone on the border

Early Thursday morning, according to foreign sources, Israeli jets targeted a factory that produce chemical weapons and barrels bombs on Syrian territory, near Masyaf, in the northern Hama region.

In 2014 this site was already identified as a front for manufacturing chemical weapons of mass destruction ready for missile tests. The attack left two dead. Assad’s government immediately threatened with “serious consequences” after the strike and accused Israel of supporting ISIS. But Isis hates Israel more than he hates Assad and Israel fights the Islamist organization on its own territory and outside of it with absolute determination.

The affair is quite different: the six-years Syrian civil war, first and foremost, is a war of rebels, more or less radical, against the dictator Assad. Hezbollah at the orders of Iran found itself on the front against the ISIS extremist opposition, with the background of Putin’s hegemonic presence. Thursday attack is a complex puzzle (repeating that it has not been confirmed by the Israeli sources to be an Israeli initiative). A former chief of military services, Amos Yadlin, tweeted that the reported attack was not routine. It is not one of the many bombings of convoys bringing weapons to Hezbollah on behalf of Iran. The risk is a strategic escalation by Iran and proxies from the Syrian territory toward a big attack against Israel from its borders.

Hezbollah is proud of its 100,000 missiles. The border expansion through Lebanon and Syria has been repeatedly denounced because it involves the presence of a violent, wide Shiite formation with the knife between the teeth against the Jewish State. The attack on the military facility called “Scientific Studies and Research Centers” (CERS), a center of chemical death and destruction, tested several times over the own Syrian citizens, certifies Israel’s decision to strengthen its borderlines to protect its territory and the lives of its citizens notwithstanding or maybe with the acquiescence of the Russians.

In recent days, it was talked about the building of two new Hezbollah weapons factories, being one of them deep in the underground of Syria. An alarming situation underlined by the winds of wars of these days. North Korean alarm brings again to light the nuclear issue connected to Iran and its continued promise to destroy Israel.

Israel does not want its border to become Iranian. The delicate point in Syria is the Russian presence: Netanyahu tried to defuse him with a frank conversation with Putin asking that each peace solution for Syria provides for the departure of Iran and Hezbollah. The answer was not so reassuring. Anyhow, both sides have promised to avoid firefighting aircraft but, at least a couple of times, Russian fire seems to have pursued the Israelis.

Thursday’s operation has the flavor of the preventive movement that destroyed Ozirak’s reactor in Iraq in 81 and the suspected Syrian nuclear site of Deir el Zor in 2007. At that time, there was also a non confirmed but solid talk about a North Korean technical nuclear help in the area. In a word: right now, Israel does not intend to become the subject of aggressive, ballistic and nuclear dreams that Iran breathes with Hezbollah inspired by the new situation with North Korea.

Thursday’s signal is for the whole world. If the Russians do not give Israel an area free from mortal dangers, or if the United States follow with the tergiversation, as it is happening, prioritizing Isis, Israel will do it alone.

Translation by Sara Hernández Díez

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (September 8, 2017)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.
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