Friday, May 11, 2018
The Iran Missile Attack and Israel's Counterstrike
Sorry to be late...THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS ABOUT IRAN BEING VERY FOOLISH. The 20 missiles the Iranian Quds force fired toward Israel on early on Thursday morning was the worst mistake the Ayatollah's hardliners have ever made. • • • ISRAEL FIRED BACK. Did it ever fire back. Israel Hayom reported that "in one of the air force's largest operations in recent decades," over 50 Iranian targets in Syria were destroyed after Iran fires 20 missiles at IDF bases. "The Quds Force paid a heavy price, it will take the Iranians a long time to recover," Israeli military said. • It started when Iranian Quds forces in Syria launched a rocket attack on Israeli army bases in the Golan Heights early on Thursday, prompting one of the heaviest Israeli barrages in Syria since the conflict there began in 2011. The Jerusalem Post reported on the Quds missile attack : "Incoming-rocket sirens were activated a little after midnight in the northern Golan Heights communities of Majdal Shams, Neveh Ativ, Nimrod, Mas’ada, Bukata, Odem and El Rom. There were no injuries or damage from the barrage since no projectile landed inside Israel, the army said, adding that four missiles had been intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system which had been deployed in the north." • Israel Hayom reported that IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis told journalists : "None of the 20 Grad and Fajr rockets fired at Israel landed in Israeli territory. Four of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system." The Quds Force, an external arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, carried out the launch, Manelis said, describing the Israeli counterstrike, in which over 50 targets across Syria were destroyed, as "one of the air force's largest operations in recent decades.“ Manelis told reporters on a call : "The IDF has been engaged in a wide-scale disruption operation against an attempt by the Quds Force to carry out an offensive against Israel. We have operated several times against Iran and have succeeded in preventing a number of terror attacks and Iranian strikes in the past month. The Iranian attack on Israel tonight is yet another clear proof of the intention behind the Iranian forces’ entrenchment in Syria and the danger they pose to Israel and regional stability," adding that “the IDF will continue to act decisively against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria." • The attack on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, just past midnight on Thursday, marked the first time Iranian forces have attacked Israel from Syria, where they have deployed along with Iran-backed shiite militias and Russian troops to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the seven-year-old civil war. Syrian state media said dozens of Israeli missile strikes hit a radar station, Syrian air defense positions and an ammunition dump, underscoring the risks of a wider escalation involving Iran and its regional allies. The Jerusalem Post reported that : "Israel struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria after 20 rockets were fired towards Israel’s front defensive line in the Golan Heights by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp’s Quds Force early Thursday morning, the IDF announced. The targets all belonged to the Quds Force and included intelligence sites, logistics headquarters, a military compound and logistics complex in Kiswah near Damascus, weapons-storage sites at Damascus International Airport; and intelligence systems and installations, as well as observation, military posts and military hardware in the buffer zone. In addition, the Iranian launcher from which the Grad rockets and Fajr-5 missiles were fired at Israel was also destroyed overnight....The 28 F-16 and F-15 jets participating in the operation were met with heavy anti-aircraft fire from the Syrian regime; in return, five Syrian air-defense batteries were destroyed by Israel." • IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters that the Iranian attack was "commanded and ordered by [Quds Force General] Qassem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purpose." The Israeli counterstrike destroyed dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria, Conricus said, as well as Syrian anti-aircraft units that tried unsuccessfully to shoot down Israeli planes. Conricus said : "We do not know yet the [Iranian] casualty count. But I can say that in terms of our purpose, we focused less on personnel and more on capabilities and hardware...to inflict long-term damage on the Iranian military establishment in Syria. We assess it will take substantial time to replenish." Israel Hayom stated : "Iran vowed retaliation after a suspected Israeli air strike last month killed seven of its military personnel on a Syrian air base. Israel regards Iran as its biggest threat, and has repeatedly targeted Iranian forces and allied militia in Syria, including Hezbollah." • Israel Hayom said : "Syrian state television broadcast footage of its air defenses firing, and played patriotic songs. Damascus residents described explosions in the sky from air defense systems. Israeli media said residents of Metula, on the Lebanese border, had been instructed to go to bomb shelters. There was no official confirmation. Lebanon's National News Agency, citing Lebanese Army Command, reported Israeli jets circling over Lebanese territory early on Thursday before exiting. Iranian officials offered no immediate comment on the Quds Force missile attack. Iranian state media reported on the attack and the subsequent Israeli strikes in Syria, relying on foreign news reports. Amos Gilead, a retired senior Israeli defense official, told a security conference in the coastal town of Herzliya that Iran's intentions in Syria meant a wider conflagration may only be a matter of time. 'They want to build a second Hezbollah-stan,' he said. 'They are determined to do it, and we are determined to prevent it. It means we are on a collision course.' " • • • RUSSIA "UNLIKELY" TO INTERVENE. That is what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Natanyahu said after his Moscow meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. Netanyahu flew to Moscow on Wednesday to meet Putin, hours after US President Trump left the Iranian nuclear deal and Syria accused Israel of carrying out a fresh missile strike on an army base near Damascus. Israel Hayom reported that Netanyahu told reporters before leaving for Russia : "Given what is happening in Syria at this very moment, there is a need to ensure the continuation of military coordination between the Russian military and the Israel Defense Forces," referring to a hotline designed to prevent the countries clashing accidentally. Netanyahu said : "I presented Israel's obligation and right to defend itself against Iranian aggression, from Syrian territory. The Iranians declare their intention to attack us. They are trying to transfer forces and deadly weapons there with the explicit goal of attacking the State of Israel as part of their strategy to destroy the State of Israel. I told President Putin that it is the right of every state, certainly it is Israel's right, to take such steps as are necessary to defend itself against this aggression. I think that matters were presented in a direct and forthright manner, and this is important. These matters are very important to Israel's security at all times and especially at this time. In previous meetings, given statements that were putatively attributed to -- or were made by -- the Russian side, it was meant to have limited our freedom of action or harm other interests and that didn't happen, and I have no basis to think that this time will be different." • Thursday's attack came hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from Moscow. IDF spokesman Conricus said Israel forewarned Russia of its strikes on Thursday. Syrian state media said Israeli missiles had been brought down over Damascus, Homs and Sueida in its report : "Air defenses confronted tens of Israeli rockets and some of them reached their target and destroyed one of the radar sites. Another rocket hit an ammunition warehouse." Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Thursday called on the sides to de-escalate, the TASS news agency said. TASS reported : "This is all very alarming, it causes concern. There should be work to de-escalate the tensions." Russia is undoubtedly concerned that its effort to protect the Assad regime may hang in the balance. Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said Wednesday, "When the president of Russia invites the prime minister of the state of the Jews to stand alongside him at the parade symbolizing the Red Army's victory over the Nazis, its liberation, also, of the [concentration] camps, of Jews and others -- for Russia, that is very significant." Netanyahu and Putin also discussed the Iranian nuclear archives collected by Israeli intelligence agents in January and presented by Netanyahu last week. The two agreed that a Russian intelligence delegation would fly to Israel to review the materials. • • • THE EUROPEAN UNION AND ALLLIED LEADERS SUPPORT ISRAEL. That is a near first. The European Union stood against Iran and defended Israel’s right to launch self-defensive strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, after its warplanes struck 50 Iranian targets in Syria early Thursday morning. “Israel has the right to defend itself,” the EU said, adding that the exchange of fire was “extremely worrying.” • The Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday : "It [the EU] spoke out hours after the United Kingdom, Germany and France issued similar statements. The Trump Administration which always stands strong on Israel’s right to self-defense issued a statement as well. While the European countries often talk globally about Israel’s right to defend itself, it is rare that they issue such wall-to-wall support for the Jewish state’s military actions. The French Foreign Ministry said its country had an 'unwavering commitment to Israel's security' and that it 'condemns any attempt to undermine it.' It called on both Israel and Iran to exercise restrain. But at the same time the French Foreign Ministry also demanded that 'Iran refrain from any military provocation' and 'warned it against any temptation toward regional hegemony.' British Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told reporters in London, 'We condemn Iran's attack on Israel. Israel has every right to defend itself. We call on Iran to refrain from any further attacks and for calm on all sides. We call on Russia to use its influence in Syria to prevent further Iranian attacks,' May’s spokesman said. The German Foreign Ministry said : We are deeply concerned by reports about last night’s Iranian rocket attacks on Israeli army outposts. These attacks are a severe provocation that we most strongly condemn. We have always emphasized that Israel has a the right to defend itself. At the same time, it is a key that the situation not escalate any further. This particularly means we must do everything we can to finally arrive a sustainable poetical solution to the conflict in Syria -- it is needed to end the suffering of the Syrian population and to not further threaten stability in the region.' " • The European statements followed the strong words of White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, who told Fox News Wednesday night “Israel absolutely has a sovereign right to defend itself.” The White House followed her interview with a more formal statement that read : "The Iranian regime’s deployment into Syria of offensive rocket and missile systems aimed at Israel is an unacceptable and highly dangerous development for the entire Middle East. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) bears full responsibility for the consequences of its reckless actions.” The White House said as it demanded that the IRGC and Hezbollah refrain from any further provocations. The White House also called on “all nations” to “make clear” that Iran’s “actions pose a severe threat to international peace and stability.” • • • DEAR READERS, Europe tried to keep the US in the fundamentally flawed Iran nuclear deal, but these statements seems to suggest that Europe will not try to create a new independent EU policy toward Iran, especially if Iran continues to destabilize the Middle East by its build-up in Syria and Iraq and its attacks on Israel sovereign territory. • The Iranian escalation in tensions came on the heels of the US announcement that it had left the 2015 agreement with Iran and the five other world powers that had been designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambition. Iran was clearly testing the waters in search of EU support against Israel -- something we would have expected considering the anti-Israel stance often taken by Europe. But, Iran came up short. The US had already warned that the Iran nuclear deal had funneled billions of dollars into Iran to fuel its regional military ambitions, including an increased military presence in Syria. The other signatories to the deal -- France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and China -- still hope to salvage the deal. And, that makes the German, French and British statements in defense of Israel particularly important. • Another key gesture came from Russia, when President Putin hosted Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow just hours before the Iranian missile attack on the Golan Heights occurred. Russian President Putin and his military are active in Syria, backing both the al-Assad regime and Iran. Israeli reportedly informed Russia of its intention to strike Iranian targets in Syria. Instead of demanding that Israel stop its efforts to end the Iranian presence in Syria, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told TASS on Thursday: "All of this is very alarming and raising concerns. It is necessary to deescalate tensions. We are verifying all the details now.” After the IDF counterstrike on Iran assets in Syria, Russia's defense ministry said Syria had shot down more than half of the missiles fired by Israel, RIA news agency reported -- as we would expect Russia to say, since it is Russian air defense systems that protect the airspace over Syria. But, again, in the aftermath of the pounding attack the IDF unleashed against Iranian assets in Syria -- Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in Herzliya on Thursday that the IDF had hit almost all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria -- there has been no outright Russian condemnation of the Israeli action. The targets all belonged to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force and included intelligence sites, logistics headquarters, a military compound and logistics complex in Kiswah near the Syrian capital of Damascus, weapons storage sites belonging at Damascus International Airport, intelligence systems and installations, as well as observation, military posts and military hardware in the buffer zone -- AND, in addition, the Iranian launcher from which the Grad rockets and Fajr 5 missiles were fired at Israel was also destroyed overnight. That would be sufficient for a loud Russian response. Nothing has thus far been heard from Moscow. Could it be that Russia welcomes Israel's campaign against Iranian assets as a convenient way for Russia to rid itself of the Iranian presence in Syria, leaving Russia in charge? • And, China -- tied up as it is because of President Trump's North Korean initiative -- is silent, undoubtedly for fear a pro-Iranian comment would jeopardize its far more important resolution of the Korean nuclear crisis. • The Washington Institute's Farzin Nadimi wrote on Thursday : "The latest clash indicates that Teheran has underestimated how far the IDF will go to prevent Iranian military entrenchment on its northeast border....As for why the original attack was launched in the first place, the perpetrators may have intended it as a proportional response to Israel's April 9 strike on Iran's drone facilities at the T-4 (Tiyas) air base and its later strikes against air defense assets. By limiting the attack's scope, they may have sought to avoid uncontrollable escalation, perhaps not expecting such extensive IDF retaliation....Yet the possibility of escalation cannot be entirely dismissed, especially since other hostile actors have been issuing threats in the wake of Israel's strikes. For example, the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group the Popular Resistance Committees declared that 'any Zionist military reaction will face operations stronger and heavier in the depth of Zionism,' implying attacks inside Israel proper. And by attempting to take credit for the rocket attack, the Syrian regime may seek to bolster its legitimacy in Arab public opinion via direct struggle with 'the Zionist enemy.' Even so, if what Iranian sources say is true -- that the main objective of the rocket strike was to deter Israel and weaken the impact of the IDF's own deterrent efforts -- then subsequent events show it has failed. The IDF responded quickly and disproportionally by attacking 'almost all Iranian-operated facilities in Syria,' according to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. This response may well affect the future calculations of Iran and its allies as they decide their next move. If the Israeli strikes were as effective as some have indicated, and if the resultant casualties were low enough to keep Teheran from feeling obligated to retaliate, then a temporary calm may unfold over the coming weeks. In the broader picture, by repeatedly acting to preempt aggressive Iranian military movements in Syria, Israel has shown its determination to prevent the Qods Force from entrenching itself on the northeast frontier and launching a Gaza-style attrition campaign that could eventually be handed over to a Syrian version of Hezbollah." • And, in the aftermath of the Quds attack and the IDF punishing counterstrike, President Trump told supporters in Indiana on Thursday evening that the US would not agree to a recreation of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal when he sits down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un next month : "I think it's going to be a very big success," Trump told a rally in Elkhart, "and if it isn't, it isn't. We're not going to be walked into an Iran deal where the negotiator, John Kerry, refused to leave the table." • The Art of the Deal is alive and well and performing diplomatic coups in the Trump White House.