A New Middle East Conflict Is Emerging
An ongoing barrage of more than 130 rockets has hit Israeli southern communities since March 9, escalating tensions between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip. The IDF killed the commander of the Palestinian Resistance Committees (PRC), in order to prevent a large-scale terror attack that was being planned against the Jewish State. The IDF is trying to re-gain Israel’s deterrence capability, responding quickly to all attempts by Gaza terrorists to target Israeli civilians.
Israel has been using the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to intercept the rockets being launched, which has proven to be effective, enabling southern residents to feel more secure. On March 10, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with mayors in southern towns, asking them to convey to residents his esteem for their fortitude. He said, “We will continue to hit whoever plans to attack citizens of the State of Israel.” He also mentioned that Israel would continue to improve home front defenses including adding more Iron Dome systems in the south.
The rocket war between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza is now changing the regional picture in the Middle East.
A recent focus of U.S.-Israeli talks in Washington exposed the glaring differences between the two allies on the timing of a possible strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But while American officials continue to give their opinion on how to stop Iran’s race towards nuclear capability, there hasn’t been enough dialogue about Iran’s other political and military agendas. What needs to be figured in to the equation is how Iran plans to use its proxies on Israel’s borders to divert international pressure away from the goals of the Persian State. Iran’s diversionary tactics could set the Middle East on fire. Israel has been preparing its defense forces for such a scenario.
Meanwhile, in January, Israeli Chief of Staff, Benny Gantz, told his Southern Command to prepare for a large scale military offensive into the Gaza Strip. In this current escalation in tensions with Gaza terrorist cells, the IDF is already pinpointing their operations. Israeli forces are also conducting surgical strikes against massive weapons arsenals.
Arms smuggling into Gaza has increased, dramatically, since the Arab Spring began a year ago. Not only has Iran continued to transfer large quantities of armaments to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PRC and other terrorist groups, but sophisticated weapons from Libya have been successfully delivered, as well. Israel refuses to stand by, idly, while the illegal arms smuggling continues. Yet, Israel does not want a war to ignite, which could spread from its southern border to its northern border.
At some point, Iran could use its terrorist proxies on Israel's borders to show its strength, in the face of Western powers stiffening sanctions and threatening military action against the Persian State.
THE BLOOD LETTING IN SYRIA
Focusing on regional dominance, Iran is actively supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad despite the brutal war he has been conducting against his own people.
Western leaders have hit an impasse in dealing with Assad, who has not stopped his forces from heartlessly murdering his own citizens in a revolt that has lasted almost a year. More than 7500 Syrians have been killed by the regime, and there are claims that instead of treating the wounded in hospitals, they are being systematically tortured by Assad’s troops.
Western powers fear an entanglement if they attempt to bring in military forces to stop Assad, claiming that it would fuel a regional war. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently stated that Israel wants to provide humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. At the same time, Israeli leaders are fearful that Assad might attack the Jewish State if he feels threatened by a Libyan-style military operation conducted by Western forces against his ruling power. In addition, American leaders have warned Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon about the possibility that Assad could transfer his chemical and biological weapons to terrorists who might attempt to use them against these Arab states in the region.
Since the Arab Spring began last year, Israeli leaders have conveyed to the U.S. that Iran cannot be looked at in isolation to other developments in the Middle East. Because of on-going defense and diplomatic cooperation between the two allies, high-level officials from both countries are now meeting every two weeks to discuss the continued flux in the region.
This past week, the global community watched as the strategic partnership between Israel and the U.S. was tested. The pro-Israel AIPAC conference, which drew more than 13,000 participants, was the platform for U.S. President Barack Obama and Netanyahu to express their positions on the Iranian issue. There were also private meetings at the White House, a press conference, and Netanyahu’s speech before Congress.
The meetings took place right before the biblical holiday of Purim, and Netanyahu presented Obama with a scroll from the book of Esther. In some ways, the meetings in Washington depicted the same kind of appeal that Esther and Mordecai presented to King Ahasuerus to prevent the annihilation of the Jewish people in 127 provinces of his kingdom, including the city of Shushan.
Washington D.C. was the theatrical backdrop to discuss the plot of Iranian leaders, just as in the time of Esther, when Haman was intent on wiping out the Jewish people. During his AIPAC speech in Washington, Netanyahu said, “As Prime Minister of Israel I will never let my people live in the shadow of annihilation.” He also made these points: “Today, we have a state of our own. And, the purpose of the Jewish state is to defend Jewish lives and to secure the Jewish future. Never again will we not be masters of the fate of our very survival; never again. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat…. We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But, when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate.”
What Netanyahu did not address, publicly, in Washington is that Israel’s constant state of “high alert” is not only about the possibility of a direct war between Israel and Iran; it is also about the indirect war Iran is already conducting against the Jewish State. Iran will continue to pursue its nuclear ambitions while, at the same time, look to distract the nations with its proxy forces in the Middle East.
Netanyahu returned from Washington with his eyes, once again, focused on the terror in Israel’s hostile neighborhood. Once again the IDF is defending a southern population of 1 million Israelis from a constant unleashing of Palestinian mortar and rocket fire bent on destroying them. As in biblical times, the Jews have the opportunity to defend themselves, to protect their lives, and to defeat their enemies.
Jews defeated all their enemies with the stroke of the sword, with slaughter
and destruction, and did what they pleased with those who hated them.” Esther 9:5
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.
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