Saturday, February 2, 2013

Israel prepares for wider conflict

(SMH) ISRAEL is said to be considering further attacks in Syria and Lebanon following the air strikes on a weapons convoy this week, and on Friday claimed ''the entire axis of evil is coming apart''.

Officials said that the risks of military action to prevent Lebanese militia Hezbollah obtaining sophisticated weapons outweighed the threats of a response from either Syria or Iran.

Israel moved a third battery of its Iron Dome protective missile system up to the border with Lebanon to prepare for any retaliation from Hezbollah, following its reported attack on what it claimed were anti-aircraft missiles being supplied to the militant group by Syria.

Lebanese government security officials said Israeli jets resumed flights near the Syrian border on Friday while an Israeli analyst confirmed further cross-border strikes were likely.

The deputy director of Israel's Institute of National Security Studies and a retired intelligence colonel, Ephraim Kam, said the risks posed by Iran-allied militants such as Hezbollah and Hamas getting their hands on some of Syria's chemical and advanced weaponry were considered far greater than the threat of retaliation.

''If tomorrow the IDF [Israel Defence Forces] sees the movement of this weaponry, it will and should strike again,'' he said on Friday. ''This week's attack was a kind of warning: 'We are ready and prepared to do this.'

''Syria has warned that it might retaliate. Iran has said that attacking Syria is attacking Iran. But neither will respond. Although we have to be careful not to rule the possibility out all together, the last thing the Syrian regime needs is to enter a war with Israel when it is struggling to survive domestically.''