Israel’s bombing of Syria this week represented a very serious escalation in the civil war that carries a high risk of internationalizing the conflict. The supposed justification for the attacks was to eliminate a depot of Fateh-110 missiles, shipped from Iran and allegedly headed to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
That was the pretext. On it’s own terms, it is illegitimate. As was discussed by Glenn Greenwald and several others, it abides by a doctrine of preventive military attack that would never be considered valid or lawful for anyone other than the U.S. or Israel.
But even if we buy into the preventive war doctrine (despite the fact that it qualifies as a war crime under international law), Israel’s bombing was still not executed out of necessity. As Danger Room’s Noah Shachtman reports, Israel’s missile defense system is capable of obstructing Fateh-110 missiles even in the unlikely event Hezbollah decided to strike first against Israel.
…current and former Israeli missile defense officials insist that if Hezbollah militants ever got the Fateh-110 weapons, Israel could shoot the missiles out of the sky.
“We are now able to cope with all the missiles that are threatening Israel right now, including the longer-range missiles in Iran and in Syria,” Arieh Herzog, the former director of the Israel Missile Defense Organization, tells Danger Room.
Shachtman explains that if scores of the missiles were shot off at Israel simultaneously, it might not work. But this should do away with any arguments that Israel merely acted to neutralize an imminent threat of attack.
Robert Fisk spoke to Democracy Now this morning about Israel’s attack, and Syria more generally.