Since Wednesday morning’s attack on Syria, Israel has been typically coy, refusing to confirm or deny what was attacked, and indeed whether they attacked at all, though privately there appears to be little doubt that they did so.
The question now is, having “gotten away with” an attack on Syria, with Syrian officials threatening retaliation but really in no position to do so, whether or not Israel will attack again. Officials are hinting that this will be the case, though again in the usual vague terms.
The reports from Western officials are that the attack was aimed at preventing SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from being sent to Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon. This is part of Israel’s ongoing efforts to keep factions they are liable to go to war with at any time light on defensive arms, to make future wars more convenient to launch.
Yet from the Assad regime’s standpoint, the Israeli attack may be a blessing, giving it a measure of international sympathy and an opportunity to play up its civil war as part of a fight against Israel.
And as the war continues to worsen, Israel may find itself under pressure to act more and more, as Syria’s massive weapons cache, as with Libya’s, becomes more difficult to keep a handle on, and weapons smuggling becomes not only a state occupation but one for private smugglers. Israeli officials may be comfortable threatening more and more attacks, but if they are stuck constantly launching strikes against the Syria-Lebanon border they may find themselves getting drawn deeper into a regional war they really don’t want.
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