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Reason For Israeli Incursion of Syrian Airspace Goes Unanswered

Syria & Iran Condemn Israeli Flight

Israel's New Counter-Terror Tactics In Race With Palestinian Rocketing of Sderot

Israeli Air-Force F-15

What was the mission of the mysterious Israeli flight into Syrian airspace which has not been commented on by Israeli officials? Both Syria and its ally Iran have condemned the overflight and warned of the consequences. After examining the information so far, IsraCast is of the view there is one explanation that appears more logical than all others. Meanwhile, on the Gaza border, the IDF's new high-tech tactics are in a race to suppress the Qassam rocketing before one of them causes a massacre in the Israeli town of Sderot. IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom, a Labor Knesset member assesses the current confrontation and needs to be done.

Israeli air incursion of Syrian airspace? At the time of this report, Israeli officials have not responded to the Syrian charge that two Israeli jets entered Syrian airspace in the early morning of September 6th. The Israeli aircraft were said to have jettisoned their spare fuel tanks after being spotted by Syrian anti- aircraft positions which opened fire. Syrian spokesmen condemned the air incursion warning that Damascus reserved the right to respond at a time and place of its choosing. An Arab Israeli cabinet minister Majadle did say in a newspaper interview that ' Israeli jets violate Syrian air space on a daily basis'. Iran has condemned the Israeli incursion declaring that that it will honor its pledge to come to Syria's aid in the event of hostilities with Israel. Israeli officials have remained totally mum. If so all that can be said is that the air incursion probably took place if there has been no Israeli denial. It is hard to conceive the Israeli pilots simply flew off course. So what was their mission? Conjecture runs rife leaving commentators scratching their heads. After examining various aspects of the case there is one solution that remains more plausible after the the others have been eliminated. But until such time as an Israeli spokesman deems fit to comment, IsraCast will refrain from speculating about the Israeli air incursion of Syrian air space.

Syrian President Bashar Assad

The incident came after a summer of rampant rumors of a possible war between Israel and Syria, perhaps by miscalculation. Israeli leaders from Prime Minister Olmert on down had declared repeatedly that Israel had no intention of attacking Syria. At a party gathering shortly after the incident, Olmert appeared to be unperturbed about the outcome of the flight which he did not mention in his address. In any case, the Syrians are incensed over the incident as is Iran. At home, Meretz Knesset member Zehava Gallon called for an urgent session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee to discuss the affair that has obviously raised tension although there is no sign it might trigger a war. As for the ire of the Syrians, Damascus has consistently participated in acts of war against Israel. Syria has long served as a conduit for Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in south Lebanon which used them to attack Israel. Recently, the U.N. accused Syria of continuing to resupply weapons to Hezbollah in violation of the cease- fire agreement that ended the Second Lebanon War two years ago. Even the Lebanese government have now appealed to Damascus to halt this illegal supply of weapons to Hezbollah that also jeopardizes Lebanon's security. In addition, Damascus plays host to various Palestinian terror organizations including Hamas and Islamic Jihad which continually try to kill Israelis and vow to destroy the Jewish state.

The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course - by Richard N. Haass

So where does all this leave the Syrian indignation over Israel's violation of its sovereignty? Richard N. Haass, President of the Council of Foreign Relations in the U.S., discussed the sovereignty issue in his book 'The Opportunity'. Haass writes: 'An essential obligation of sovereignty is that governments should neither support terrorism - the intentional killing of innocent men, women and children by actors other than states for political purposes - nor allow their territory or their resources to be used by those who do. If a state does such a thing or actively promotes or permits it to occur from its territory, it is an act of war'.

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip gave what they called a 'present' to the Israeli children of Sderot for the opening of their new school year. They launchedseven Qassam rockets at the pupils and toddlers as they were on their way to school and kindergartens. The kids and their parents made a mad dash for bomb shelters when the 'Red Dawn' early warning sirens started wailing giving them all of fifteen seconds to reach safety before the rockets came crashing down. Fortunately, they all made it and none of the rockets scored a direct hit. However, many were treated for shock and anxiety. It's been going on for seven years now this terrorising of the entire town. In fact, since Israel totally withdrew from Gaza two years ago, the terrorists have been using the evacuated territory to launch even more Qassams into Sderot. The frantic parents of Sderot demanded urgent government action, cancelled classes and travelled to Jerusalem to protest outside the Knesset.The Israeli security cabinet met in special session and decided against a massive ground operation into Gaza at this time. Opposition leader Bibi Netanyahu of the Likud had demanded such a military action in light of the rocketing. An IsraCast analysis has reached the following conclusions on Israel's current policy. In recent weeks, the IDF has initiated new high - tech tactics for locating and destroying the Qassam teams that launch the rockets from just a couple of miles over the Gaza border and from inside built-up civilian areas. Several dozen terrorists have been killed by these new counter measures.

The terrorists, eager to prove they are alive and kicking, have responded by this week's accelerated rocketing. Moreover, on September 6th, Israeli helicopters killed six terrorists speeding in a truck and jeep toward the Gaza security fence with the aim of breaking through and storming an IDF outpost. Israeli troops also spotted the approaching vehicles and opened fire from a distance of some 200 yards. The gunmen who were heavily armed returned fire before being killed. They were members of the Islamic Jihad and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade which by the way is linked to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah organization.

The confrontation has escalated into a race between Israel's new and more effective counter-terror measures and accelerated rocket attacks. The question is whether the Israeli tactics will suppress and contain the rocketing or whether one of the rockets will first hit a crowded kindergarten or school before the kids make it to the bomb shelter. In this worse case scenario, the Israeli government would be under immense pressure to launch a major ground operation into Gaza to drive the terrorists out of rocket range range. IDF troops have been training at a specially built urban site resembling Gaza to prepare for such a contingency. But there are no illusions - a major ground operation could be costly in casualties for both IDF soldiers and Palestinian civilians.

There is another alternative and time will tell if it will be adopted by Israel. Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Yatom, now a Labor Knesset member, proposes a stepped up counter-terror offensive to include more small special forces operations around the clock and the targeted killing of terrorists.

Knesset member Danny Yatom outined his program in a detailed interview with IsraCast.

After a previous rocket hit an empty kindergarten several weeks ago, IsraCast proposed that Israel retaliate by cutting off its power supply to Gaza. Despite the Palestinian attacks, the Israeli power station in nearby Ashdod still supplies electricity to the Gaza Strip. This despite the fact that the terrorists actually try to target the Ashdod power station itself! Kadima cabinet minister Haim Ramon has adopted the idea and Israeli officials are now examining this possibility. It is a form of collective punishment on the Palestinian population but on the other hand this very same population elected the Hamas government that encourages the terrorism against Israel. While the Palestinians cheer the launching of rockets deliberatly fired at Israeli school children should Israel be expected to refrain from even non-violent retaliation to force the Palestinians to suffer some consequences of their actions. On the other hand, international law stipulates that although a state is entitled to act in self-defense it must not take punative measures against defenseless civilians. Moreover, self-defense must be proportionate to the provocation. If so, is it proportionate for Israel to cut off temporarily electricity to Gaza in reaction to the Palestinian rocketing? On a practical level, the Palestinians could be expected to claim that patients died in hospital due to an Israeli power outage.

David Essing

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