'Sunday Times' reports shift in IDF focus from Palestinians to Syria, Iran.
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Israel has to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player, an Israeli military official told the British Sunday Times. "The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defense agenda, higher than the Palestinian one," another official said.
The recent war with Hizbullah and the threat that Iran could achieve nuclear weapons capability have led Israel to reexamine its defense strategies, and focus on the region's two major supporters of terrorism, IDF sources have said recently. One conclusion is that Israel has allocated too much time and energy to addressing the terror threat posed by Palestinian groups in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
According to London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, both Iran and Syria have ballistic missiles whose range extends over most of Israel, including Tel Aviv. Funds have reportedly been approved for the construction of appropriately equipped shelters.
Eyeing Syria, the IDF has formed a new infantry brigade, known as Kfir (young lion), as a countermeasure against Syria's commando forces, which are considered "better" than Hizbullah guerrillas, a military source informed the Times. The IDF is also reportedly integrating three elite brigades in preparation for them cooperating on deep cross-border operations into Syria and Iran.
Also, shortly before the Lebanon war, Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedy was appointed head of the IDF's Iranian Front - and as such will command any future strikes against Syria or Iran.
Some analysts say that it would have been better for Israel to attack Syria during the recent war with Hizbullah. Syria has consistently supplied Hizbullah with weapons, and according to recent UN reports, has continued to smuggle arms to the organization despite an international embargo. "If they had acted against Syria during this last kerfuffle, the war might have ended more quickly and better," American analyst Richard Perle said.
"Syrian military installations are sitting ducks and the Syrian air force could have been destroyed on the ground in a couple of days," Perle continued.
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