In a televised interview on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station Thursday, May 30, Syrian President Bashar al Assad warned Israel that he is feeling pressure to open a military front against Israel.
Assad said there was “popular pressure” in his country to strike at Israel because of “repeated Israeli aggression.”
Israel has struck Syria three times over the past several months in order to stop the traffic of suspected biological and other sophisticated weapons which flow from Iran through Syria. The eager recipients-to-be of those weapons is Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim terrorist entity closely aligned with Iran, which is headquartered in Southern Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border.
In the latest of the alleged Israeli attacks against Syria on Sunday May 5, an explosion rocked a military research facility outside the Syrian capital of Damascus. “Military research facility” is a frequently used euphemism for chemical weapons factory.
Syrian officials called the early May attack a “declaration of War against Syria by Israel,” and warned of grave retaliation, but no specifics were given.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been brutally caustic in his criticism of Syria for failing to respond to Israel’s attacks. Erdoğan ridiculed the embattled Syrian president for being a “mute devil” for carrying out attacks on his own people but failing to stand up to Israel for its “aggression” against Israel and because Israel “occupies Syrian territory.”
Erdoğan was referring to the Golan Heights, a strategic location in Israel’s far northeastern border which Arab and Muslim nations and their sympathizers routinely refer to as “occupied Syrian territory.” The Golan Heights were acquired by Israel in a defensive war, one which Syria waged against the Jewish State in 1967. Prior to Israel’s acquisition of the Golan Heights, the Syrians high up in the hills routinely shot at Israeli civilians who were frequently forced to sleep in bomb shelters. The topography of the land rendered Syrians shooting at Israelis the equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.
THE GOLAN HEIGHTS: HOW IS IT ISRAEL’S, LET US COUNT THE WAYS
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War Syria again attacked Israel and briefly invaded the Golan Heights, but were turned back in less than a day. Following this defeat, Syria signed a “Disengagement Agreement” ceding the territory to Israel. Eight years later, Israel formally annexed the territory.
In other words, Israel acquired the Golan Heights in a defensive war in 1967, it reacquired it in another defensive war in 1973, Syria ceded control of the territory in 1973 and in 1981 Israel formally announced its sovereignty over this strategic highpoint. And yet the anti-Israel nations and the media and other enablers still refer to this area as territory illegally occupied by Israel. That should be a lesson to those who believe, because they keep hearing it, that Israel is an evil occupying force: facts have nothing to do with the claim.
There was extensive speculation about whether or not Syria received from Russia a delivery of long-range S300 missiles in recent days. Although in the text of Assad’s speech, distributed prior to his televised al-Manar interview, Assad stated that Syria had received the first shipment of those weapons, during the actual interview Assad did not use those words, and instead his language was very general.
The S300 anti-aircraft missiles have been described by Israel as a “game changer.” According to Israeli officials, there has thus far been no delivery to Syria of these weapons. There is currently an EU arms embargo on Syria.
“The S300 would be the pinnacle of Russian-supplied arms for Syria,” Colonel Zvika Haimovich, a senior Israeli air force officer, told Reuters in an interview. “Though it would impinge on our operations, we are capable of overcoming it.”
Israeli government minister Silvan Shalom told public radio: “Syria has had strategic weapons for years, but the problem arises when these arms fall into other hands and could be used against us. In that case, we would have to act.”
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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