Israel plays chicken with the bear and the lion

Israel often bombs inside Syria, risking a possible collision with Iran, Assad and Russia.

Since 2012 Israel has carried out about 100 strikes inside Syria, aiming at stopping the transfer of advanced weapons from Iran to its protégé, Hezbollah. Those deliveries are supposed to increase Hezbollah’s ability to hit Israel in the next war, so Israel has the right to try to limit this danger to its people.

Iran’s national animal is the lion but as long as Iran does not have nuclear weapons this lion’s teeth are not that lethal, particularly in Syria. The Iranian military presence in Syria is quite limited, only militias and also some of its own troops but they don’t possess a major threat to Israel. They are basically infantry units with some artillery. They don’t have a lot of tanks nor an air force.

Assad (lion in Arabic) is also not that much of an obstacle. The lion of Syria is wounded and actually military speaking is more like a big cat. It used to have a substantial military but the civil war significantly wore down Assad’s military. However Israel should not underestimate Assad, who might gradually recover and rebuild his military, with Russian and Iranian support.

The main challenge for Israel is Russia that has in Syria fighter planes and S- 400, a sophisticated antiaircraft missile, which could intercept Israeli planes. The American eagle keeps flying far above Syria, keeping a certain distance, so Israel tries to handle the Russian bear on its own. Israel has an understanding with Russia with regard to Israel’s strikes inside Syria. The Russian bear is kind of friendly to Israel but it is not Winnie the Pooh. Israel, while stinging the lions in Syria, has to be careful not to annoy the bear.

Russia tries to turn the Syrian jungle into an organized zoo. Israel can tolerate that as long as the lion, the Iranian one, does not become the king. Meanwhile Israeli F- 16/ 15 Falcons will continue to bomb inside Syria. By the way Israel’s national bird is the hoopoe, which is nice but it is not really the image Israel wants to have in the Middle East Jungle, when facing bears and lions and other nasty animals.

About the Author
Dr. Ehud Eilam has been dealing and studying Israel’s national security for more than 25 years. He served in the Israeli military and later on he worked for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. He is now a writer and an independent researcher. He has a Ph.D and he had published five books He lives now near Boston, MA. His email: