“Israeli warplanes attacked a target on the Lebanese-Syrian border overnight Tuesday, foreign media reported on Wednesday,” according to a report in the Times of Israel. “While some reports said the purported strike was carried out on the Syrian side of the border, according to one source the target was a weapons convoy that had crossed from Syria into Lebanon. The reports come amid rising concern in Israel and the West regarding the sizable chemical weapons stockpile in the hands of an increasingly embattled Syrian regime. Lebanese officials said a dozen Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace on Tuesday and overnight into Wednesday, flying close to the ground in several sorties over southern Lebanon. The Israeli military and the Prime Minister’s Office had no comment. A Lebanese army statement said the last of the sorties was at 2 a.m. Wednesday. It said four warplanes, which flew in over the southernmost coastal town of Naqoura, flew for several hours over villages in south Lebanon before leaving Lebanese airspace.”
If these reports are accurate, then the question is what exactly were the Israelis hitting and why?
It may take some time before we know for certain, but it’s possible that Israeli intelligence saw chemical weapons being moved out of Syria into Lebanon for use by Hezbollah. That is a red line Israeli officials have repeatedly stated would trigger the use of force.
The Times notes: “Israel has been deeply concerned that chemical weapons from Syria could make its way into the hands of the south-Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group due to the chaos of the Syrian civil war, and has said on several occasions that the transfer of chemical weapons to non-state actors, especially Hezbollah, would be a casus belli. Another chief fear among Israeli security officials is that Hezbollah could get its hands on Syrian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles. If that were to happen, it would change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon. Israel believes that Damascus obtained a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli airstrike in 2007 that destroyed an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor.”
The Jerusalem Post reports: “Vice Premier Silvan Shalom on Wednesday spoke to Israel Radio following reports that Israel Air Force warplanes struck a target on the Syrian-Lebanese border overnight, hours after Lebanon reported a series of three overflights by Israel in its airspace. ‘The entire world has said more than once that it takes developments in Syria very seriously, developments which can be in negative directions,’ he told Israel Radio, recalling that President Barack Obama has warned Syrian President Bashar Assad of US action if his forces use chemical weapons.”