We’ve all seen how since late Friday, Israel has been facing an unending series of rocket and mortar attacks which has kept the country on alert. Hamas from their enclaves in Gaza has launched, to date over 200 rockets and mortars on the Israeli territory around Sderot. Most of the rockets fell into open fields or were shot down by Israeli Iron Dome air defense systems. But one rocket hit just outside a family’s home injuring three while another hit a synagogue although it was empty at the time.
The Israelis have responded with their heaviest air strikes since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. More than 40 targets were hit including a Hamas training facility that the IDF has stated contained underground tunnels for training as part of Hamas’ tunnel network operations. Hamas claimed that the facility was empty and only two teenaged passersby across the street were killed.
Reports were surfacing of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt which will reportedly stop the rockets for now and the Israeli counter strikes. It will only put off the inevitable because this was just the opening salvo of the Iranian two-front strategy.
This strategy is already well-known by the IDF chiefs in Tel Aviv. It is simple as it aims to put the Israelis under a two-front scenario that they cannot win. They are pumping rockets into Gaza with Hamas and together with the Syrian offensive aimed at retaking the southern areas of the country back from the rebels during the on-going civil war, they are planning on having a presence on the Israeli border at the Golan Heights.
Rather than use Hezbollah’s bases in Lebanon which would invite an Israeli incursion, they are going to establish Iranian bases in southern Syria. That’s what Tehran wants, an Iranian presence in the Golan. Under the current de-escalation agreements between the United States, Russia and Jordan, the southern area of Syria were supposedly off-limits. However, Syrian forces under the Assad regime are actively attempting to retake the southern areas and return them to government control with a heavy dose of Russian air power in support.
President Putin has frequently stated that only Syrian troops will occupy the borders along the Jordanian/Israeli.Syrian border. And that any Russian or Iranian troops will withdraw soon after the area is retaken. Right now the Syrian troops are moving east towards Daraa close to the Jordanian frontier. It is when they turn southwest towards Quneitra that things are likely to get dicey. It is no secret that Iranian militias are embedded with the Syrian troops.
Israel has made it clear that it will tolerate no Iranian bases or troops along its border. In the past several months, their intelligence has been able to pinpoint the Iranian bases inside Syria and they’ve been decimated by air attacks. But these bases were mainly Iranian bases. Once embedded with Syrian forces it presents another factor entirely. Will Putin and the Russian Air Force, which hasn’t lifted a finger to stop the Israeli airstrikes thus far respond now as they’ll be attacking both Syrian and Iranian troops? Right now the answer is no, but this has all the earmarks of a quagmire in the area.
The Iranians know that of right now an all-out conventional conflict with Israel will go badly. But that’s not what they’re looking for. A two-front conflict with Israel with rockets poised in Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza will effectively stop the Israelis from acting decisively in any location.
And the Iranians haven’t even been trying to do so covertly, they’re broadcasting their aims openly over social media. Back in June, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) deputy commander Hossein Salami spelled out Iran’s plan to use Hezbollah, which he called a “mighty power” with 100,000 rockets aimed at Israel.
He also called upon the “Islamic Army in Syria, operating in the Golan Heights was awaiting orders “to eradicate the evil regime.” He added that the Palestinians, armed with missiles can now act against Israel, the Americans and the west.
In typical Iranian rhetoric, Salami said that Iran controlled the shipping lanes that operate out of the gulf and that any attempt by the West (read Europe) will result in the Islamic Republic squeezing the Europeans off from their oil and goods shipped thru the gulf.
Some of his comments during the Quds speech are here:
The Islamic Revolution created a mighty power called Hezbollah, that today, as the Zionist regime itself acknowledges, has over 100,000 missiles ready for launch. Hezbollah today has tremendous might on the ground that can on its own break the Zionist regime. The Zionist regime has no strategic-defensive depth, and in some places, the breadth of this regime is barely 34 km, and in order to destroy it, it will take only one ‘Jerusalem operation to destroy it.
“Today an international Islamic army has been formed in Syria, and the voices of the Muslims are heard near the Golan… Orders are awaited so that the custom of God vis-à-vis the eradication of the evil regime [Israel] will land and the life of this regime will be ended for good. The life of the Zionist regime was never in danger as it is now.
“Once, the Palestinians fought with stones and slingshots, but today they are armed with missiles. Every regime site is today under fire from the missile launchers. The farther and more deeply [we look], the more we see that there is a politically and militarily powerful regime in the world that raises the flag of fighting evil. This regime is Iran.”
“Iran Invites The Muslims To Jihad”
“We Have A Duty To Defend The Palestine Movement That Is Now Fighting… We Are Creating Might In Lebanon Because We Want To Fight Our Enemy From There With All Our Strength”
“Does today’s world know that [its] energy is under Iranian security control? They must know that if their industry flourishes thanks to Persian Gulf energy, they owe this to Iran, and they must not annoy Iran. Their life’s vein is in our hands. The security of their interests is in our hands.”
The Israelis were well aware of the Iranian plans and hard-liners in the government were already debating whether the IDF should hammer Gaza hard now before the Iranians are digging into southwestern Syria.
In regard to Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is of the opinion that if war is coming with Iran, it is better to deal with it now rather than later. The Israelis know that an Iranian presence on their border is going to lead to conflict between the two countries. Tehran is wanting for the low-intensity type with the Israelis being hamstrung between two fronts and limited to carrying out airstrikes in Gaza and Syria, without the capability to decisively deal with either threat.
The leaders in Tehran have no issue, as in the past by using the Palestinians for that purpose. Meanwhile, the mainstream media ties the recent rocket attacks from Gaza as a continuation of the “protests” along the border that hit the area recently. It is not. Nor will it, as is repeatedly stated effect the “peace process” between the Israelis and Palestinians. Hamas is of the opinion that Israel doesn’t have the right to exist.
What this is, however, is a power play by Tehran and how events unfold in southwestern Syria will bear watching in the very near future.