On Tuesday, May 8th, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – otherwise known as the Iran nuclear deal – that was signed between Iran and six world powers, referred to as “the P5 +1” (it would have been easier if they just referred to the P6 to prevent everyone from having to do the math) and that it would be renewing economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran. In his televised speech, Trump stated, among other things, that the deal “should have never been made. It didn’t bring peace and it never will.” The action by the U.S. was certainly in its best interests and boosted Trump’s image as a decisive leader in the international community. And, irrespective of what may think about him from a number of different perspectives, when it comes to Israel, he knows how to make the right decision. He and the U.S. will be blessed as a result (“I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse…” Gen. 12:3). He walks the walk.
As expected, Iran was not a happy camper. It had continually threatened that there would be “consequences” if the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal.
The following night, May 9th, Iranian military forces stationed in Syria fired 20 rockets towards the Israeli portion of the Golan Heights. Some of them were shot down by Israeli’s Iron Dome defense system, while the others fell on Syrian soil. Windows in Haifa and in various places in the north of Israel were rattled when the Israeli Air Force responded by sending 28 jets into Syrian airspace, which fired some 60 missiles at Iranian targets, severely damaging its infrastructure on Syrian soil. In the process, Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli jets, which all returned unharmed and safely home to Israel. Israel also destroyed the anti-aircraft batteries. The number of Iranians who were killed in the Israeli retaliatory strike varies, depending upon the source of the reports, but in all, 23 troops were killed, 18 of them being non-Syrians.
Israel’s Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, warned Tehran: “If you give us rain, you will get a flood.” The U.S. and other countries joined in condemning Iran and in supporting Israel’s right to defense herself. In a rare announcement, Bahrain’s Foreign Minister said that all countries in this region have the right to defend against Iranian agression. Others, like Russia of all places, called upon the parties to act with restraint.
Iran was clearly embarrassed by Israel’s successful retaliatory strike against its various installations in Syria. While Iran says that it is not interested in escalating the tensions between the two countries or in the region, it is clear that none of Iran’s media pronouncements can be trusted. The missile barrage could be an opening shot, to test Israel’s response (which was undoubtedly more than what Iran had expected). At the same time, it announced that as a result of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, Iran would push ahead with uranium enrichment on an industrial scale. In line with this, Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami warned yesterday (Friday): “We will expand our missile program and our capabilities despite pressure from Western countries … to let Israel know that if it acts foolishly, Tel Aviv and Haifa will be totally wiped out.”
Notwithstanding statements like those from Ahmad Khatami, Iran continues to blame others for the escalating tensions in the Middle East, while portraying itself as one who is acting to diminish those tensions. In an almost ludicrous statement, Syria joined Iran’s narrative and accused Israel as the one that is destabilizing the region: “…Syria has expressed dismay over the overnight airstrikes and blamed Israel for disrupting the peace and stability in the region. Iran has not yet made a statement about the attack.” Apparently, some of the chemical agents used by Syria have fallen on its media personnel.
There is, however, an over-emphasis by the media as to whether Tehran will respond to these latest developements and to its being embarrassed by Israel’s retaliation and destruction of much of its military infrastructure in Syria. The more formidable enemy is Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, the Hezbollah, which is not getting the media attention that it should. If Israel had acted in Lebanon the way that it did in Syria, it could have prevented the massive buildup of rockets and missiles now possessed by the Hezbollah, which are said to number over 100,000, all pointed in Israel’s direction. This terrorist organization has turned into a sizeable military force since the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and many in their organization have gained combat experience by being active participants in the 7-year civil war in Syria. In all likelihood, if a serious military confrontation takes place with Syria, or with Iran, directly or indirectly, the Hezbollah will be active participants in that,as well. As I mentioned in previous posts, Israel is preparing for a multi-front war, the opening shots of which may have been the Iranian missile barrage from Syria last week. For now, as we begin a new week, there is an uneasy quiet on the northern front.
Increasing Tensions in the South
If the northern arena is taking a breather, the southern arena is picking up steam. The weekly, Friday confrontations along the Gaza fence are growing in intensity and in the damage that is being done to the fields on the Israeli side of the fence by “Kite Bombs” prepared by the “Palestinians”. Acres of land here have been destroyed by this unconventional, new weapon, that as of now, Israel is struggling to cope with. The facade of these weekly confrontations being “non-violent” has long been negated. During yesterday’s demonstration, “Palestinians” set fire to gas pipelines that carry gas from Israel to the Gaza Strip. As the expression goes, they are “shooting themselves in the foot”.
It is expected that the violence will reach its peak on Tuesday of this coming week, as we begin the week with Jerusalem Day (commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967) on Sunday, the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday (coinciding with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment according to the Gregorian calendar) and Nakba Day (what the “Palestinians” refer to as the day of catastrophe) on Tuesday. One leader of the terrorist organization, Hamas, hinted that it is possible that hundreds of thousands of “purely peaceful” protestors would storm the fence. Israel’s forces will continue to defend against any terrorist attack and “Palestinian” attempts to breach the border, instigated by Hamas. A massive protest and confrontation will undoubtedly result in a multitude of casualties, which would be in keeping with Hamas’s goals of gaining as much media coverage as possible, in the hope that the international community will not only condemn, but take action against, Israel. This coming week’s Gaza fence confrontations will provide the headline coverage that Hamas has been waiting for. It should be clear that one of the easiest ways to negate so-called “Palestinian” claims to the land of Israel is by noting their readiness to destroy it.
“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:15)
“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)
“Blessed be the LORD from Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 135:21)
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.