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U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt: "When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck to crush him!"

(FDR was referring to the necessity of the U.S. entering WWII against Nazi Germany)

IDF Brigade during live fire exercise in Israel. (CC: IDF, Photo by Sgt. Alexi Rosenfeld)

Foreign reports disclosed that on the night of December 2nd, Israeli rockets destroyed a new Iranian military base being built 15 kilometers from the Syrian capital Damascus. The new facility was located near a Syrian Army installation and was designed to house 500 troops as well as military vehicles. Several weeks ago, BBC TV satellite photos revealed the new Iranian military site located 50 kilometers from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. The IDF has refused to comment on the air attack, saying it does not respond to foreign news reports. Israeli Cabinet Minister Yoav Gallant did state:

"Israel has no intention of letting Iran establish another Hezbollah in Syria!"

Israel will do what it takes to bar Tehran from turning southern Syria into a forward base, even at the risk of war with Iran.

At present, Tehran has a strong Hezbollah army armed with well over 120,000 missiles and rockets hidden inside Lebanese villages across the border from Israel and poised to strike Israeli civilian and military targets. Hezbollah, which is also trained by Tehran, takes its orders from the Ayatollahs. While the Syrian civil war winds down, both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman have warned repeatedly that Israel will not acquiesce in pro-Iranian forces maintaining a permanent presence in Syria. For their part, the Iranians are now bent on expanding their military presence in Syria and opening another front against the Jewish state.

Israel and Iran are now engaged in a dangerous test of wills. If Israel carried out the attack, it was carefully planned and executed at night when the building would most likely have been abandoned - indeed so far there are no Syrian reports of casualties. (However, the booming of the explosions probably did wake up Assad in his presidential palace.) In other words, Israel sent a stern message but refrained from inflicting casualties that would have forced the Iranians to respond in kind and set off a major escalation. But make no mistake - Israel will do what it takes to bar Tehran from turning southern Syria into a forward base, even at the risk of war with Iran.

Israeli PM Netanyahu and Russian PM Putin (photo by: Avi Ohayon, CC GPO National Photo Collection)

Russia is now the main power broker in Syria after President Obama deigned to disengage. Obviously, the Russian reaction to the Israeli-Iranian poker game is a key factor in what happens next. Netanyahu has met with President Vladimir Putin several times and stated categorically that preventing a permanent Iranian military presence in Syria is a vital Israeli strategic interest. It is not clear how Putin responded. Come to think of it, why would the Kremlin favor a troublesome factor such as Iran in their new patch?

When faced with serious strategic threats from Syria, Israel has a record of taking drastic action when required. In 2007 a mysterious air strike destroyed a secret nuclear reactor being constructed by the North Koreans. Washington later disclosed Israel had conducted the attack. American officials, from the President on down, seem to have a penchant for exposing secret Israeli operations (as President Rump has just done about Israel's discovery that Daesh was planning to blow up airliners by planting bombs inside laptops that could get by airport checks. Israel has to grin and bear it - it's sort of Israel justifying the military aid it receives from the U.S.) On the intelligence score, when it comes to Israel's contribution, this is only a tip of the iceberg). In any event, the reported Israeli raid on the Iranian base is the most serious in the nearly 100 secret air strikes carried out in the region in recent years (according to Gen. Amir Eshel, the former commander of the Israeli Air Force.)

Now the purported Israeli air strike will stress a solution is required for this potential danger.

The American reaction is also a key factor. Jerusalem feels it has been let down by President Trump's refusal to negotiate a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria with Putin. However, an American official is quoted by Channel 10 as reassuring that the U.S. will insist on this condition when the final terms of an agreement are concluded for termination of the Syrian Civil War. Now the purported Israeli air strike will stress a solution is required for this potential danger.

Gaza: tit-for-tat…

Hamas Tunnel uncovered by the IDF (photo credit: IDF)

After a month of procrastination, Islamic Jihad launched a mortar barrage on an IDF position over the Israeli border. It was in retaliation for the Israeli air strike inside Israel on a Palestinian terror tunnel aimed at enabling terrorists to pop out and kill and kidnap Israeli civilians. The fact that the tunnel was bombed inside Israel cuts no ice with the Palestinians because a number of Palestinians were killed inside. They vowed to retaliate and did, but only in a minor fashion, and the IDF, which was on super high-alert, took no casualties and responded in kind. It launched a couple of minor air-stikes into Gaza and lobbed a few shells – no big deal. So the minor confrontation that could have escalated into the biggest clash since the summer war of 2014 has subsided. Meanwhile, Israel is busy building a unique, top-secret tunnel defense at a cost of over one billion dollars!

Bibi at the brink…

Some 20,000 Israelis have demonstrated in Tel Aviv calling for an end to 'the corrupt regime!' Prime Minister Netanyahu and a number of his closest aides are now under investigation for a series of suspicions involving financial corruption. To add fuel to the fire, Likud Knesset Member David Bitan, the party's Knesset whip, has just been hauled in for questioning about his role in a potential kickback scheme when he served previously on a city council. Police sources have leaked that they have wrapped their investigation into Bibi's accepting huge 'gifts' from business tycoons, foreign and local. This is illegal but Bibi contends otherwise.

...the public demonstration calling for an end to the corruption could start an avalanche.

Meanwhile, the Knesset is engaged in a fierce debate over passage of a controversial bill that would change the law and bar the Israeli Police from revealing its conclusions to the public. The final say on whether to prosecute rests with the Attorney General, who was appointed after serving as Bibi's right-hand man as cabinet secretary. In any case, the public demonstration calling for an end to the corruption could start an avalanche. Although Bibi admits to accepting the 'Gifts' – boxes and crates of expensive cigars and champagne as well as expensive jewelry, Bibi keeps on saying, "Nothing will come of it, because there is nothing!" Bibi is also being investigated for trying to 'Fix' newspaper coverage. Stay tuned there is definitely more to come.

PS: Official US recognition of Jerusalem? I refer to the motto for driving safely on Israeli streets and roads – 'Don't be Right! Be Smart!'


Political Analyst David Essing


David Essing

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