Is Israel going after Tehran in broad daylight? - analysis

All four blasts, which have raised little concern or interest in Israel until yesterday, were attributed by foreign sources to the Jewish state.

By
August 22, 2019 10:12
2 minute read.
Is Israel going after Tehran in broad daylight? - analysis

Israel Air Force holding large-scale drill simulating multi-front war. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Six months after Israel warned that it might expand its war-between-wars campaign against Iran, four mysterious daytime blasts rocked arms depots belonging to Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias in Iraq.

All four blasts, which raised little concern or interest in Israel until Tuesday, were attributed by foreign sources to the Jewish state.

Both Israel and the US have warned that Iran and its proxy militias are the biggest threats to peace in the region, and that they hope to weaken Tehran’s growing influence across the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.

The first strike close to Iraq attributed to Israel was in June of last year near the town of Al-Bukamal, killing 22 members of a Shi’ite militia. While the Syrians attributed the attack to the US-led coalition, it is largely believed to have been carried out by the Israel Air Force.

Just weeks before the first strike in Iraq, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned – during a visit to an F-35 squadron at the Nevatim Air Force base – that Israeli planes can strike anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran and Syria.

And Iraq is smack in the middle.

But the alleged Israeli strikes in Iraq – which were reportedly carried out with the approval of Russia and the United States if this is correct – could get complicated, as US forces are deployed in the country working side-by-side by Iraqi troops who themselves are working with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

In the first alleged Israeli strike inside Iraq in late July, the Americans quickly said that they weren’t responsible for the blasts, which reportedly destroyed missiles stored in a PMF warehouse located inside the Iraqi al-Saqr military base.

On Tuesday, explosions rocked an arms depot belonging to the PMF near Balad airbase some 80 km. north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Balad hosts US forces and contractors who were reportedly hit by shrapnel from the alleged attack.

Israel has warned repeatedly that it would not allow for an Iranian presence in Syria, and has admitted to hundreds of airstrikes to prevent the transfer of weapons such as ammunition and surface-to-air missile kits to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and its forces in the Golan.

According to intelligence reports, Iran has been providing Shi’ite militias in Iraq with guided ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel. The Islamic Republic is also believed to be trying to build an alternative stronghold following Israel’s ongoing campaign against them in Syria.

Iran has been trying for a number of years to establish a 1,200 km. land bridge from Tehran to the Mediterranean. In May, satellite images taken by ImageSat International showed Iran has been building a new border crossing 2.6 km. west of the official Al-Bukamal Al-Qaim border crossing, which would expedite weapons transfers from Tehran to groups like Hezbollah.

While it could be that the Israeli jets were ordered to strike targets that posed an immediate threat to Israel, the Jewish state rarely strikes during the day. But it could be that Israel’s military under IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi’s command is not willing to wait.

It could be assumed that Israel will now strike during the day to prevent Iran from transferring its missiles to Syria and hit them when they are still in Iraq.


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