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May 18, 2018     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 18, 2018 PAGE 3.A. powq By Yaakov Lappin (JNS) In striking more than 50 Iranian military targets within 90 minutes early on Thursday morning, the Israel Defense Force displayed just a sample of its advanced, intelligence- fueled precision firepower, dealing a crushing blow to Iran's assets in Syria. This exchange of fire rep- resents a new, stepped-up phase in the escalating Israeli- Iranian standoff in Syria. Much of Iran's military infrastructure in Syria was destroyed in this wave of strikes, likely leaving the Quds Force--the overseas elite Iranian unit trying to consolidate its presence in Syria--reeling. The Quds Force has been busy in Iran, building missile and rocket bases, drone bases, importing Shi'ite militia forces and trafficking heavy weapons into the region. It had begun launching direct attacks on Israel in contrast to Iran's older pattern of ag- gression, which was based on activating proxy attacks. Most disturbingly, the Quds Force had begun initiating the next stage of Iran's takeover of Syria. All of these efforts had one goal: to be able to use Syria as a springboard for attacking Israel. The Iranian axis in Syria, with the help of Russian air- power, has nearly completed its victory over the Sunni rebel organizations and could now turn its attention to stage two of its Syrian project: Israel. The Iranian leadership has made no secret of its intention to establish a grand, radical Shi'ite empire across the Middle East, stretching across Iraq, Syriaand Lebanon--and beyond. These imperial ambi- tions threaten not only Israel, but the region's Sunni powers, which is why these states are in full support of Israel's self- defense measures. Iran's mistake was to un- derestimate Israel's ability to put a stop to this plan. On Tuesday night the Quds Force, led by the charismatic and notorious Gen. Qasem Soleimani, dispatched a truck rocket-launcher towards Is- rael. As it drove south of Damascus, preparing to fire on Israel, it was destroyed in a missile attack. Large quantities of muni- tions fired in little time The ability to detect such a developing threat in real time--and take action--is exactly the kind of unparal- leled intelligence and strike capabilities that enable Israel to be a step ahead in its conflict with Iran. But the Iranians did not take the hint. They tried again on Wednesday night, firing 20 rockets at IDF positions on the Golan Heights. The IDF was prepared, intercepting the rockets with Iron Dome missile-defense system, and then going on the offensive in a massive wave of firepower. Israel's operation on Thurs- day, which was the largest conducted by the Israel Air Force in years, required extraordinary intelligence- gathering abilities, and in particular, the know-how to map out the various locations in which the Quds Force had taken root. This intelligence was then converted into the capability to fire guided mu- nitions at the targets in large quantities in little time. Several of Syrian President Bashar Assad's air-defense batteries made the mistake of getting involved in the fight, firing surface-to-air missiles at Israeli jets. They paid a price for that decision; a good num- ber of units were destroyed in Israeli counter-strikes. These events ultimately mean that Iran tried to force the Jewish state to accept its presence in Syria, and the effort completely failed. Iran ended up losing more than 50 military targets, and Israel's message to Tehran--to exit Syria immediately--received a powerful boost. It's too soon to know if this round of fighting has ended. But Iran is unlikely to give up on Syria so quickly. Despite the blow absorbed, the Iranians will likely make Basel Awidat/Flash90 Israeli soldiers seen near the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights on May 7, 2018. a new attempt to move into Syria, smuggling new kinds of weapons, and preparing the ground for future attacks on Israel. The events of recent days have marked the start of a new phase in a long-term Iranian-lsraeli long-term con- flagration. This is a conflict, however, that began when Iran came to Israel's borders to threaten and attack it, and not the other way around. So far, Hezbollah has kept out of this conflict, and this is welcome news. Iran is un- likely to want to risk its proxy ensconced in Lebanon, prefer- ring to continue pointing He- zbollah's 120,000 rockets and missiles at the Jewish state. Despite a remarkable dis- play of Israeli military capa- bilities, this is no time to be complacent. The Iranians will be back, and the IDF must be prepared for its return. Flash90 An Israeli army pilot sits in a cokpit of an F-16 aircraft. By Malkah Fieisher (JNS)--Following an Iranian rocket barrage on Wednesday night, the Israel Defense Forces pounded Syr- iawith significant airstrikes, obliterating dozens of targets associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Overnight on Wednesday, Iran lobbed 20 Grad and Fair- 5 rockets into Israel from the suburbs of Damascus. Four of the rockets were neutralized by the Iron Dome missile- defense system, with the other 16 landing in Syrian territory. In retaliation, Israel struck the rocket launching site. In addition, Israel destroyed weapons depots, intelli- gence centers, anti-aircraft weaponry, storage facilities, observation posts and opera- tions headquarters. The Israel Defense Forces reported that it had set back Iranian military capabilities in Syria by "many months," smashing more than 50 targets in what IDF Spokes- person Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis called "one of the greatest operations of the Israel Air Force in the past decade." In Israel, red-alert warn- ing sirens went off in some Israeli communities in the Golan. No injuries or dam- age were reported in Israel, and the IDF said all air-force personnel returned home safely. The Golan Regional Council ordered the schools and public-transportation systems to remain opera- tional on Thursday. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Thursday morning at the Annual Herzliya Conference that "the Iranians tried to attack the sovereign ter- ritory of Israel. Not one Iranian rocket landed in the State of Israel. Nobody was hurt. Nothing was damaged. And we're to be thankful for that." Lieberman added that the IDF had "damaged nearly all of the Iranian infrastruc- ture in Syria" during the counterattack and warned Iran "if we get rain, you will get a flood." He said that while Israel would respond with "the strongest possible force" to Iranian attacks, the Jewish state also maintained an interest in keeping the confrontation limited. Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan stated "we are not playing and we are not bluffing. We are de- termined to do whatever is necessary to defend Israel." Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein posted on Twitter praising Israel for sending"a clear message to its enemies and Iran: The rules of the game have changed. We will not tolerate any threat against the security of our citizens." Opposition leaders also showed solidarity with Wednesday-night's cam- paign. Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, affirmed "Israel will not tolerate Iranian attacks on our sovereign territory," adding that "the world must be united in the fight against terrorism and that means be- ing united against #Iran and its terror proxies." Zionist Union Knesset member and former Defense Minister Amir Peretz urged the government to "prepare for a broader confrontation." ~:IDF Spokesman Manelis stated that Israel is "prepared for What happens "next, that "if the Syrians allow direct aCtiVity against ISr~iel, they will pay a price." He also noted that Russia had been informed prior to the attack. The escalation came on the heels of an announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump that America would be with- drawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reapplying sanctions, and less than two weeks after Israel destroyed the Iranian-manned T-4 air base outside Damascus. The exchange marked the most serious direct alterca- tion between Iranian and Israeli armies, and the most severe exchange between Syria and Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. By Aryeh Savir World Israel News Iran's Quds forces launched a barrage of rockets at IDF bases on the Golan Heights in northern Israel on Wednes- day night, the first Iranian attack on Israeli soil in his- tory. The assault prompted an extensive Israel Air Force attack on dozens of Iranian targets in Syria. Shortly after midnight, IDF defense systems identi- fied approximately 20 rockets that the Iranian Quds forces had launched at IDF forward posts on the Golan Heights. The majority of the rockets missed their mark and fell in Syria territory, while four were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. The incoming attack set off air raid sirens in communi- ties throughout the north. The Iranian attack caused no injuries or damage and was essentially a resounding failure. In response to Iran's attack on Israeli sovereignty, IAF fighter jets struck dozens of military targets belonging to the Iranian Quds forces in Syrian territory. As part of the wide-scale attack, said to be the largest in decades and possibly since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the IAF struck Quds Force intel- ligence centers, Quds Force logistical command centers, a Quds Force military center and a Quds Force logistical center in AI-Kiswah, as well as an Iranian military base north of Damascus. Additional targets included Quds Force ammunition depots in the Damascus International Airport, intel- ligence systems and outposts associated with the Quds Force, watchtowers, military posts and munitions in the buffer zone. In addition, the Iranian missile launcher responsible for the missiles fired on Israeli territory was destroyed. Stern warning to Syria During the attacks, Is- rael issued a direct and stern warning to the Syrian army not to get involved in the confrontation, but the Syr- ian air defense did attempt to down IAF fighters. The Syrian army claimed its air defenses "repelled an Israeli missile aggression on Syrian territories, shooting down scores of missiles." A military source quoted by Syria's official SANA news said the army's air defenses shot down "tens of Israeli missiles, preventing most of them from reaching their targets," while some man- aged to hit a number of air defense battalions, radars and an ammunitions depot. In response to the Syrian intervention, the IAF at- tacked a number of Syrian aerial interception systems, including SA-5, SA-17, SA-22, SA-2 batteries. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report- ed several explosions that rocked the central sector of A1-Quneitra countryside, adjacent to the Israeli Golan Heights, the result of an Israeli attack on positions of the Assad regime army and its "allies" near al-Baath city. All IAF aircraft returned to their airbases safely. There was no immediate word on Iranian casualties, and the Iranian media has so far remained silent on the hostilities. "The Iranian attack on Israel tonight is more deci- sive proof of the intention behind the Iranian military establishment in Syria and the danger it poses on Israel and stability in the region," the IDF stated. "The IDF will not allow the Iranian threat to establish itself in Syria. The Syrian regime will be held accountable for everything happening in its territory." The IDF vowed to "contin- ue to operate in a determinate matter in opposition to the Iranian military establish- ment in Syria. The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsi- ble for the actions performed in its territory and warns it against taking action. The IDF is highly prepared for various scenarios and will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of Israel's civilians." IDF remains on 'very high alert' Just hours after the violent confrontation, Israel's home front is in routine activity, with school and agricultural work proceeding as usual. IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus stated that Israel was not looking to escalate the situation, however, the army remains on "very high alert," and "should there be another Iranian attack, we will be prepared for it." Israel has repeatedly warned that it will not accept an Iranian military presence in Syria, which it views as a direct threat to its security. The IDF has been antici- pating such an act of aggres- sion from Iran, and on the previous night it carried out a preemptive strike against Iranian missiles that were pointed towards Israel. The IDF considers its action on Wednesday night as highly successful, while the Iranian attack is viewed as a total failure.