In the Middle East, Russian Air Force pilots are at it again. Recently they startled two US Navy vessels by roaring over their decks in a mock attack, and now they have threatened an Israeli jet, apparently on a peaceful reconnaissance flight over what was the former Syria, trying to spot more Syrian-Iran shipments of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In the American incident, President Obama viewed it as a one-time thing and did not take it too seriously – along the line of ‘boys will be boys’. And Obama probably got this right – if Donald Trump were President we’d probably be in the middle of World War III with Russian’s new Czar Vladimir!
But with the Russian jets playing a deadly serious combat role over Syria and Israeli fighters protecting the dangerous Syrian border from the very real threats of Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and last but not least, Daesh and Al Nusra (al Qaeda), a hostile Russian buzz must be taken very seriously. So Bibi got on the hot line to Moscow and requested another urgent face-to-face meeting to hammer out what happened. For good measure he took along Israel Air Force Commander Amir Eshel. You can just hear Bibi saying to Vladimir with a smile:
‘Mr. President, we have a deal – but it seems some of your pilots have gone a little too far. They may have done it for kicks, jet jockeys are known for that, but I’m worried that my guys may take umbrage and we don’t want these hotshots to overdo do it, do we’.
Then Vladimir probably smiled back:
‘Mr. Prime Minister, Dah, (yes) I agree entirely. As a matter of fact, I have also ordered some of top defense officials on hand and I suggest they meet with your commander to review our existing understanding about Syrian airspace. Some six months ago, Putin and Netanyahu worked out a modus operandi that has enabled Russian jets to attack the rebels trying to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad while Israeli jets continue their bombing of Iranian and Syrian shipments of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
So far, so good. However, today the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot ran a glaring headline: ‘Russian-Syrian Force Opened Fire on Israeli Jets’.That would explain why Bibi requested and got his urgent meeting with Vladimir. But it appears the two leaders saw eye to eye, and there has been no official confirmation that the Russians did open fire. It may be that Russian pilots are a little peeved after the Turks shot down and killed a Russian pilot in the aerial free-for-all now underway in the skies over Syria.
What is certain is that Netanyahu told the Russian leader there is no way Israel will come down from the Golan Heights. The IDF captured the high plateau from where the Syrian Army constantly shelled Israeli towns and villages below in Galilee. Bibi was adamant:
‘Israel will not return to the days when the Golan was used to attack our communities and children. Therefore, with or without an agreement, the Golan will remain under Israel’s sovereignty’.
Just three days earlier, Prime Minister Netanyahu convened a cabinet meeting symbolically on the Golan, which Israel formally annexed after the Six Day War.
For the present, Bibi and Vladimir can smile and shake hands over Syria. For the foreseeable future, there is little prospect of restoring any central government in Damascus; therefore it is a moot question, although Assad has vowed to recover the Golan one day. And this footnote: Israel has already signaled to Iran, Hezbollah an Al Nusra that it will not allow them to turn the Golan into a new front against Israel. This is another of Israel’s red lines. Nor will any armed force be permitted to attack Druze villages on the Syrian side of the Golan. This has reportedly been a Netanyahu commitment to the Druze population in Israel, whose men serve in IDF combat units.
In the wake of Russia’s increased involvement in the region, Israel has sought a modus operandi with Putin. Meanwhile America’s slow but steady withdrawal, what Obama described as ‘leading from behind’ continues unabated. In the background, the cease-fire is gradually collapsing. If the U.S. demands that Assad must go but Russia insists that he stay, it is hard to foresee a solution.
And despite the tension between Bibi and Barack Obama, there was a flash in the American sky that showed that sometimes actions speak louder than words. An Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ missile was launched at an American pilotless drone and scored another bull’s eye. The interception was part of a planned test, and the first of its kind for the U.S. Army. Rafael, the Israeli weapons authority that developed Iron Dome, made modifications to meet American requirements. During the past five years Iron Dome has shot down some 1,500 Hamas rockets from Gaza launched on civilian and military targets in Israel. So far it has a success record of over 90 percent!
And speaking of Gaza, Hamas is at it again. It has an unblemished record of trying to execute more and more original terror attacks against Israel. First they tried sending in suicide bombers acrossthe border. Just sneak in, preferably at night, and kill and maim as many Israelis as you can before you blow yourself straight to paradise and the 72 waiting virgins. So what did Israel do? Of course, it took the advice of Robert Frost and built a fence, in some places a wall, to keep out the terrorists.
So stymied on land, Hamas tried the sea – vessels for smuggling in rockets to fire at Israel over the security fence. So Israel imposed a naval blockade: even independent experts appointed by the UN ruled it was a legal blockade. So the Palestinians built their own Qasam rockets to launch over the fence. Israel countered with the unique Iron Dome defense.
The Palestinians could not attack Israel by land, sea or in the air. What’s left? Well there’s always tunneling under the ground. Right – call in Israel’s high-tech guys to develop a method for detecting tunnels dug deep underground. They apparently hit the jackpot by locating such a tunnel deep under the border for enabling Hamas terrorists to pop out some night to kill or kidnap sleeping Israeli families.
Hamas, by the way, enjoys an overwhelming majority of support in the Palestinian camp. And that is also why we are still a far cry from ever hearing Palestinian leaders declare they recognize Israel as the Jewish state in the way Israeli leaders declare they recognize the right of a Palestinian state. When Israel believed that Egypt’s President Anwar Sadat and Jordan’s King Hussein showed their willingness to make peace, what resulted was two enduring peace accords.
But to top it off, no system is perfect. A nineteen-year-old Palestinian from the little town of Bethlehem boarded an Israeli bus in Jerusalem. He was wearing or carrying a large quantity of explosives, which he detonated or exploded prematurely. Over twenty Israeli men, women and children suffered burns some are still in intensive care. Due to Israeli security measures, it was the first such bus bombing in years. The Palestinian himself later died of his wounds in the intensive care unit of Hadassah hospital.
In Bethlehem, a crowd took to the street cheering for the killer who had tried to incinerate a bus full of Israeli civilians. The town of Bethlehem will likely name a new street in his honor. President Mahmoud Abbas will also pay his family a pension. Some damsels of Bethlehem, apparently taken by photos of the deceased, are even offering to blow themselves up so they will also be dispatched to paradise where they can be his wives.
And these footnotes:
The Israeli man convicted for the sadistic murder of a Palestinian youth has been found to be sane and sentenced to life in prison by an Israeli court.
The IDF soldier who shot dead a wounded and possibly incapacitated Palestinian terrorist, who had just stabbed another soldier, will apparently face manslaughter charges in a court-martial, if a plea bargain is not worked out in the controversial case.
And finally, people like Bernie Sanders, might consider the various FACTS before they start their Israel bashing even if they are Jews, who may even have visited. Certainly Israel makes mistakes, the settlement issue included, but it is still far more ‘sinned against then sinning’. As someone I know well said recently:
‘Bernie seems to be one of those Jews who has grandiose solutions for the whole world but forgets his own people!’