Friday, April 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Israel may feel need to strike Syria again

BEIRUT — An Israeli air attack staged in Syria this week may be a sign of things to come.

Israeli military officials appear to have concluded that the risks of attacking Syria are worth taking when compared to the dangers of allowing sophisticated weapons to reach Hezbollah guerrillas in neighboring Lebanon.

With Syrian President Bashar Assad’s grip on power weakening, Israeli officials fear he could soon lose control over his substantial arsenal of chemical and advanced weapons, which could slip into the hands of Hezbollah or other hostile groups. These concerns, combined with Hezbollah’s own domestic problems, mean further military action could be likely.

Tzachi Hanegbi, an incoming lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and a former chairman of parliament’s influential foreign affairs and defense committee, signaled Thursday that Israel could be compelled to act on its own. While Israel’s preference is for Western powers to gain control over Syria’s arms stockpile, he said there are no signs of that happening.

“Israel finds itself, like it has many times in the past, facing a dilemma that only it knows how to respond to. And it could well be that we will reach a stage where we will have to make decisions,” Hanegbi told Israel’s Army Radio Thursday. Hanegbi, like other Israeli officials, would not confirm Israeli involvement in the airstrike.

In this week’s incident, Israeli warplanes conducted a rare airstrike inside Syria, according to U.S. officials who said the target was a convoy believed to be carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran.

The Syrian military has denied the existence of any weapons shipment and said a military research facility outside Damascus was hit.

On Thursday, Syria threatened to retaliate, while Hezbollah condemned the attack as “barbaric aggression.” Iran, which supplies arms to Syria, Hezbollah and the Hamas militant group in Gaza, said the airstrike would have significant implications for Israel. Syrian ally Russia said it appeared to be an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation.

Syria’s ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdul-Karim Ali, said Damascus “has the option and the capacity to surprise in retaliation.” He told Hezbollah’s al-Ahd news website that it was up to the relevant authorities to choose the time and place.

For now, Israeli officials seem to be playing down the threats.

“Israel took a big gamble out of the belief that Iran and Hezbollah won’t retaliate. The question is, ‘Are they right or not?’” said Moshe Maoz, a professor emeritus at Hebrew University who specializes in Syria.

Officials believe that Assad’s position in Syria is so precarious that he cannot risk opening a new front with Israel. With an estimated 60,000 Syrians killed in the civil war, Israeli officials also think it’s too late for Assad to rally his bitterly divided nation behind him.

“Syria is in such a bad state right now that an Israeli retaliation to a Syrian action would be harsh and could topple the regime. Therefore Syria is not responding,” Maoz said.

Israel is far more worried about the threat of sophisticated weapons reaching Hezbollah. In a monthlong 2006 war, Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets and missiles into Israel before the conflict ended in a stalemate. Israeli officials believe the guerrilla group has restocked its arsenal with tens of thousands of missiles, some capable of striking deep inside the Jewish state.

Resigned to this fact, Israel has set a number of “red lines” for Hezbollah that it says are unacceptable, in particular the acquisition of new weapons that it believes would change the balance of power in the region. These include chemical weapons and sophisticated anti-aircraft and surface-to-sea missiles.

This week’s airstrike is believed to have targeted Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles that Syria recently obtained. If they were to reach Hezbollah, the SA-17s would greatly inhibit the Israeli air force’s ability to operate in Lebanon. Israel has frequently flown sorties over Lebanese skies since 2006.

The airstrike is part of an Israeli strategy known to military planners as “the policy of prevention,” or the “war between wars.” In recent years, Israel is believed to have launched a number of covert missions, including airstrikes in Sudan and assassinations of key Hezbollah and Hamas militants, aimed at disrupting the flow of weapons to its Iranian-backed enemies. Israel has never acknowledged involvement.

Israeli security officials believe that Hezbollah, despite its claims of victory, is still deterred by the experience of the 2006 war, in which it lost hundreds of fighters. Instead of a direct war, Israel fears Hezbollah might try to strike Israeli or Jewish targets around the world. Israel has accused Hezbollah of a string of attacks on Israeli targets in recent years, including a deadly attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last July.

The Israeli airstrike comes at a particularly sensitive and vulnerable time for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Despite its formidable weapons arsenal and political clout in the country, the group’s credibility and maneuvering space has been significantly reduced in the past few years.

Hezbollah still suffers from the fallout of the 2006 war, which many in Lebanon accuse it of provoking by kidnapping soldiers from the border area. Since then, the group has come under increasing pressure at home to disarm, leading to sectarian tensions between its Shiite supporters and Sunnis from the opposing camp that have often spilled into deadly street fighting.

When Hezbollah sent an Iranian-made reconnaissance drone over Israel in November, the group boasted of its capabilities — but critics in Lebanon slammed it for embarking on a unilateral adventure that could provoke Israel.

Despite persistent reports and accusations that Hezbollah members are fighting alongside the military in Syria, Hezbollah has largely approached the Syria conflict with caution, mindful that any action it takes could backfire.

“In different times, Hezbollah would have reacted to Israel’s surgical strike, but not today,” said Bilal Saab, director of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, North America. “This is a time for hunkering down and weathering the storm.”

The uprising in Syria, the main transit point of weapons brought from Iran to Hezbollah, presents the group with its toughest challenge since its inception in 1982.

The group could still get weapons, but would struggle to get them as easily without the Syria supply route. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah’s public support for the Assad regime has proved costly and the group’s reputation has taken a severe beating. Former champions of the group now describe it as hypocritical for supporting Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, but not in Syria.

While the attack overnight Tuesday, believed to be the first by Israel on Syrian soil since 2007, appeared to come out of nowhere, signs of impending action were evident in recent days.

On Jan. 23, the day after national elections, Netanyahu convened top security officials for an emergency meeting to discuss the situation in Syria.

One of the meeting participants, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, warned this week that Israel could be forced to carry out a pre-emptive attack under certain circumstances. The same day, Israel suddenly moved a new, state-of-the-art rocket-defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was hit hard by Hezbollah rocket fire during a 2006 war.

Uzi Rabi, a military analyst at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center, said the attack was a “kind of message” sent by Israel to Syria and Hezbollah.

“It says we do have capabilities when it comes to intelligence gathering … and this would serve as kind of a warning sign to Hezbollah not to transfer chemical weaponry from Syria to Hezbollah,” he said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

‘Same Time, Next Year’ opens in Benicia

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Man to stand trial in rural Vacaville killing

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A1, 11 Comments | Gallery

‘We Got Next’ Comedy Tour stops at Dimitri’s

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Puppies to take part in Vallejo dog show

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Afisivalu announces run for Fairfield council

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Tonnesen seeks Fairfield City Council seat

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Family matriarch celebrates 100th birthday

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Barbecue brings big crowd, progress to Parkway Gardens

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 18 Comments | Gallery

Assist-A-Grad wraps up interviews

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Napa County bridge to close for work

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Town hall on crime set in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 9 Comments

 
Crash shuts I-80 offramp to Highway 12

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5, 5 Comments | Gallery

Suisun City police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Ukrainian unity on display with peaceful rallies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Putin’s choice of words shed light on Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Who gained, and what, at Ukraine talks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Salmon released in California river restoration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
1 dead, 1 injured in California boating accident

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

BART fined $210,000 for worker deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Military shell prompted evacuation of hundreds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Jury convicts husband in Iraqi woman’s death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California health care sign-ups exceed projections

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 3 Comments

Dirty creek, old purse solve four-decade mystery

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Man said to be homesick for prison gets 3 1/2 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Chelsea Clinton expecting first child this fall

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Holder: Hate crimes ‘an affront to who we are’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 4 Comments

Spate of Mideast virus infections raises concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Samples collected from oil slick not from plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

S. Sudan: 12 die after mob attacks UN base

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Peru volcano prompts evacuation of 4,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Nigeria: Fate of 115 abducted girls unknown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Tiny power plants hold promise for nuclear energy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

Confused, chaotic scene described on sinking ferry

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
.

Opinion

Food brings back fond memories

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

 
Internationally out of touch

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
Watch out for grandson scam

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 20 Comments

Why so much spent to find a plane?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoon for April 18, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History for April 18, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

My husband tells our sons that they don’t need to listen to me

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B13

 
Horoscopes for April 18, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B13

.

Entertainment

 
Week in preview April 18-24, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

Review: ‘Heaven Is for Real’ heartfelt but dull

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Lost radio program featuring Hank Williams found

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
‘Real Housewives’ TV star faces battery charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Ill, hospitalized Miley Cyrus postpones more shows

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar April 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

.

Sports

Badminton update: Rodriguez, Armijo head toward post season

By Brian Arnold | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
MEL boys roll to easy win over SCAC

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Short-handed SCAC girls ‘gut out’ all-star win over MEL

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sharks beat Kings 6-3 in Game 1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Dodgers get to Bumgarner early for win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Miguel Angel Jimenez set for Champions Tour debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Sponsorship woes put Swan Racing future in doubt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Ex-quarterback McNabb spends day in Arizona jail

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Season wrapup: Sacramento Kings’ ‘new era’ off to slow start

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Clippers-Warriors series billed as must-see TV

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Kuchar builds on Masters momentum, shares Heritage lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

War of words in Northwestern-athletes’ union fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Shumenov gets big chance in ring against ageless Hopkins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Montreal team sign Chad Johnson to 2-year contract

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Seattle 1B Choi banned 50 games for positive test

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Dodgers’ Puig focuses on baseball despite issues

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stanford takes lead at LPGA LOTTE tournament

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Boston Marathon makes room for more runners

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Vanden clinches at least share of SCAC boys tennis title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Toyota Camry gets a top-to-bottom makeover

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1

 
Hot models at this year’s New York Auto Show

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Judge won’t order recalled GM cars to be parked

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Cyber cops: Target hackers may take years to find

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Walmart jumps into the money transfer biz, loudly

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B12

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B13