Syrian anti-aircraft missile launchers 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Sana Sana)
Concern is mounting in Israel over the possibility that Hezbollah will try to
move sophisticated weaponry, including Scud missiles, from Syria to Lebanon to
protect them in the event of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s downfall.
concern stems from reports that Assad might be losing control over certain
military capabilities including an air defense base which was captured by rebels
earlier this week.
Syria is believed to have allocated a number of Scud D
missiles – the most advanced missile in its arsenal – to Hezbollah already in
2010 but they have been stored in bases in Syria.
The understanding until
now has been that the missiles would only be transferred to Lebanon in the event
of a war with Israel but not before as to prevent a potential Israeli military
Now though, with Syria in the midst of an uprising, there is
concern that Hezbollah might try to move the missiles into Lebanon to prevent
them from being captured by rebels or other rogue elements.
happens and Israel becomes aware of the transfer, the government will have to
decide if it should attack and intercept the transfer or ignore it to prevent
such a strike from escalating into an all-out war with Hezbollah and
An Israeli strike in Syria could provide Assad with the
opportunity to use Israel as a scapegoat and divert attention away from his
violent crackdown, to Israeli violence.
On the other hand, the delivery
of Scud D missiles to Hezbollah would be a significant increase to the
organization’s capabilities. Syrian Scud Ds have a range of about 700 km. and
can carry non-conventional warheads.
In the meantime, the Israel Air
Force is in the process of receiving new Arrow missile interceptors that would
be better equipped to intercept Scud missiles.
The upgraded interceptor
is called “Block 4” and contains new software aimed at improving the system’s
ability to defend against long-range ballistic missiles such as Iran’s Shahab
and Sajil and Syria’s Scud D missiles.
The Arrow is Israel’s upper tier
missile defense system, complemented by the Iron Dome for short-range rockets
and the David’s Sling, which is under development and to be used against
medium-range rockets and cruise missiles.
In the coming months, the
Defense Ministry plans to hold its first interception test of the Arrow 3, a new
higher-level system that will provide Israel with a number of chances to
intercept incoming enemy missiles.
Israel’s concern also focuses on the
possibility that Syria’s arsenal of chemical weapons will fall into rogue hands.
The concern over the stability of Syria’s chemical arsenal comes at a time when
only about 60 percent of Israelis are in possession of gas masks. The IDF is
currently lacking NIS 1.2 billion to complete the production and distribution of
gas masks to the rest of the public.