The Syrian and Hizballah armies Sunday, Sept. 8, finished supplying rockets to dozens of Palestinian groups, some invented ad hoc, and deploying them on the Syrian and Lebanese borders facing Israel, debkafile’s military sources disclose. An array of Katyushas, Grads and Fajr-5s, with ranges of up to 70 kilometers, is now in place. This development prompted the first deployment in the Jerusalem region Sunday night of an Israeli anti-missile Iron Dome battery.
The information reaching Israeli intelligence is that the newly-armed Palestinian groups fully intend targeting the Israeli capital, following the example of Hamas, which aimed missiles from the Gaza Strip at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in November 2012.
In his interview to PBS’s Charlie Rose Show airing Monday, Bashar Assad spoke of “people aligned to Syria” carrying out “some kind of retaliation” for an American attack.
It now turns out that he intends using pro-Syrian and amorphous Palestinian groups as his instruments of retaliation, while at the same time disavowing responsibility for their actions.
In the south, likeminded Hamas and Jihad Islami groups in the Gaza Strip may try and join the rocket offensive against Israel. It will be hard for them to stand aside and watch, although Egypt’s counterterrorism offensive in Sinai is cutting into their resources.
The Israeli government’s assurances, last heard from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon Sunday, that the Israeli public must carry on as usual – because running into “the full might of the IDF” will deter “anyone” thinking of hitting back at Israel – sharply contrasted with the Syrian and Hizballah preparations for proxy reprisals by Palestinians.
The minister sounded more credible when he said in the same breath: “We are ready for all the consequences – either of a US attack on Syria, or the absence of an attack. Whichever is decided we will be affected.”
The IDF’s high command could not miss the fact that the four Grad rocket attack from Lebanon on northern Israel’s Western Galilee took place on Aug. 22, the day after the chemical attack on eastern Damascus. It was meant as a warning from Damascus and its Hizballah ally for Israel to stay out of the Syrian conflict or else allied Palestinian groups would unleash their missiles in earnest.
For public consumption, Israeli officials pretended that the four rockets were fired by a vague “global Jihad” group, to disguise the truth that a pro-Syrian Palestinian group was in fact responsible.
Israel is not alone in putting an upbeat gloss on the facts.
Last Monday, Sept. 2, two Syrian Mig-29 fighters flew over the RAF Akrotiri base in Cyprus, where American and French warplanes are waiting for the signal to go into action against Syria. It took the British Ministry of Defense a week to disclose that a pair of armed RAF Typhoons was scrambled to intercept the Syrian intruders, forcing them to turn tail before they entered Cypriot air space.
Amid the hush from London surrounding the incident, the Syrian air force tried its luck a second time Sunday, Sept. 8. This time two Sukhoi (Su-24) bombers flew over Akrotiri.
Those signals from Damascus ought to open the eyes of the optimists who are counting on Syria and its allies to avoid responding to a potential American attack.