Israel’s air strikes: The first shot in a wider war?
What’s even more intriguing is the second of the two Israeli air strikes in the early hours of Sunday morning. The target here was a military complex around Jamraya – an area with headquarters, research facilities and so on. We still do not know the specific target or targets hit, though the flames and explosions would have been visible to many people in Damascus itself. It is perhaps the nature of the target here that contains the real Israeli message to the Syrian president.
This now leaves Mr Assad and his Hezbollah allies in a difficult position. Should they respond in some way? Both see themselves as champions of the resistance against Israel. In the past, Hezbollah has sought to attack Israeli or Jewish targets overseas. Certainly any direct military response from Syria or southern Lebanon risks a much larger confrontation, which both President Assad and the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah would wish to avoid.
But it’s hard to imagine the weapons shipments being halted. Too much is at stake. Depending upon the weather and Israel’s intelligence capabilities, some may still get through.
But the Syrian crisis is entering new territory here. No wonder that experienced Israeli military analysts are already warning of the danger of war, as what promises to be a long hot summer fast approaches. Details remain sketchy, but Israel’s air strikes against Syrian targets over the past few days are designed to send a powerful signal.