Waking up to New Danger from North: Scud Missiles
The Syrian government claimed Israel is using the Scud ballistic missile transfer to try to create an excuse for launching a war. "Israel aims from this to raise tension further in the region and to create an atmosphere for probable Israeli aggression," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement
The U.S., however, is not happy with the Syrian transfer of missiles to Lebanon - and an expert says Israel will have to take action.
Prof. Eyal Zisser, head of the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Tel Aviv University, told Arutz-7 that the news requires Israel to make some difficult decisions. “There’s no question that the transfer of [these missiles] is an escalation,” Zisser said. “These Scuds are more precise than those that Saddam Hussein launched at us in the Gulf War of 1991, and they have a longer range as well.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the U.S. has relayed its concern to the Syrian government, Senator John McCain raised the issue at the hearing on Iran on Wednesday, and Under Secretary of Defense Flournoy said the U.S. is “very concerned” by these reports.
In addition, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters that any such missile transfer would put Lebanon at "significant risk,” later adding – under a questioner’s pressure – that other countries in the region, “including Israel,” would also be endangered.
Crowley’s remarks came a day after President Shimon Peres accused Syria of supplying Scud missiles to Hizbullah, and after Defense Minister Ehud Barak said it was a “blatant violation” of relevant U.N. Security Council decisions. Crowley did not confirm that Syria actually supplied the missiles, saying only that the “reports” are of concern.
The Syrian government claimed Israel was trying to create an excuse for launching a war against Syria."Israel aims from this to raise tension further in the region and to create an atmosphere for probable Israeli aggression," the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai Al Aam reported that the missiles transferred by Syria to Hizbullah can reach a range of 300 kilometers - nearly halfway between Be’er Sheva and Israel’s southernmost point, Eilat.
Hizbullah Has Been Building Rocket Stocks for Years
In truth, Prof. Zisser said, the danger from Hizbullah is not new: “Ever since the Second Lebanon War [in 2006], Syria has given Hizbullah nearly 40,000 rockets, some of which are very similar to Scuds. Hizbullah now has another 40-50,000 rockets, most of them short-range that can reach Haifa; they are not the most precise, but they can cause great destruction. We destroyed their Iranian-supplied Zilzal long-range rockets on the first day of the war, but they have a few hundred new long-range missiles that they received from Syria… They have basically tripled their strength.”
Despite this, the picture is not entirely black, Zisser said. “First of all, we can also cause terrible damage in Lebanon, and the other side knows this. We hurt them much more badly in the Second Lebanon War than they did us. In addition, as opposed to the last war, when they had rockets they could set up simply with a timing device and run away – the Scuds that they now have are much bigger and more easily detectable, and we can attack the launching teams much more easily. The Scuds are also interceptable with our systems.”
In the long run, Zisser believes that though we dealt them a heavy blow in 2006, “they are getting stronger, and the rocket smuggling from Syria and Iran continues, and Israel will sooner or later have to deal with this. True, [Hizbullah leader] Nasrallah is still [hiding out] in the bunker, but he continues to pull the strings, and the government of Israel will have to set the time at which it will act. In the meantime, we’re not hearing that this is being done.”