Jerusalem Report – 06/01/2018 – Iran Talking or Stalling?

The report of the indirect talks were said to have been conducted last weekend between Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, who was in one hotel room in Amman with Iranian security personnel, while in the next room there were senior Israeli security officials, including the deputy head of the Mossad. The report said a Jordanian mediator carried messages between the sides. Jordan also passed the messages to Syrian and Russian officials.

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Kimberly Rogers-Brown

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Debka file reported last week that a large Syrian army and Hizballah force was massing from Izra in the southern Daraa region. These armies were poised to fight through to the Jordanian border and come within reach of Quneitra across from Golan Heights.  

The big Izra base also houses the Iranian command for eastern Syria. Bashar Assad has freed up substantial military strength for his drive to capture the south after beating back rebel forces from the Damascus area and proclaiming it under his control. The strength piling up at Izra consists of elements of the 4th Armored Division, as well as the 5th, 7th and 9th Divisions, paired with Hizballah reinforcements. They are armed with fresh Russian arms deliveries of Golan 1000 missile launchers and the new version of the Kornet D anti-tank missiles which can hit targets within a range of 8-9 km.

I ask you if you think Russia’s Golan missiles might be named for a particular target?According to Debka, sources reported that fighting units were prepared to drive south, knock over the U.S.-backed rebel militias holding positions in the southeast and break through to the Syrian-Jordanian border crossing at Nasib.

Sounds like a premature attack plan since Syria and Bashar Al-Assad are not head of the 4+1 Coalition. That honor goes to Iran. However, it makes one wonder if this isn’t more planning and testing strategy by Tehran using Syria to discover the strengths of Jordan and Israel at their borders.

The US and Israeli commanders are watching the buildup at Izra with concern. 

The buildup of tensions over the last several months, along with the increased Syrian military force in the southern regions across from Israel and Jordan seem to have initiated secret talks between Israel and Iran in Jordan this week with the purpose of negotiating the future of Syria. 

The outcome was that Iran pledged to stay out of fighting in southwestern Syria during the talks with Israel as reported by Israel’s newspaper, Ma’ariv. 

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces have clashed with Sunni rebel groups in Daraa which is on the border with both the Israeli Golan Heights and Jordan’s northern border. Israel has made it clear that it will not intervene in the battles in the tri-border area, as long as Hezbollah and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias are not involved.

The US has also warned Assad not to move troops into the region. 

The report of the indirect talks were said to have been conducted last weekend between Iran’s ambassador to Jordan, who was in one hotel room in Amman with Iranian security personnel, while in the next room there were senior Israeli security officials, including the deputy head of the Mossad. The report said a Jordanian mediator carried messages between the sides. Jordan also passed the messages to Syrian and Russian officials. 

Furthermore, they said that Israel made clear to the Iranians they should not become involved in fighting close to the Israel-Syria ceasefire lines in the Golan and the Israel-Jordan border. One participant in the talks reportedly said that “the sides discussed this issue with the Israelis, and arrived at a quick agreement that even surprised the Israeli representatives.” 

Elaph sources said Iran understood that its heavy losses in Syria resulted from Israeli attacks in the country. As a result, Iran may have been willing to agree not to participate in battles in southern Syria, on the condition that Israel will not participate at all in combat in the region. 

Israel’s peace treaty with Jordan includes an Israeli umbrella of defense, which provides for Israeli military action should Jordan be threatened.

According to Haaretz, Assad wants to keep Iranian forces 25 kilometers away from the Golan Heights border and demands that Iran move its forces from Syrian airfields to prevent any more Israeli attacks. Syria is also ready to guarantee the retreat of Hezbollah and Iranian militia forces to 25 kilometers away from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. 

Syria is also interested in discussing the potential revival of the 1974 disengagement agreement it signed with Israel. According to Al-Sharq, which quoted diplomatic sources, Syria conveyed these messages to “neighboring countries” through mediators. 

A Western diplomatic source confirmed to Haaretz that it was Russia that relayed these messages from Assad to Israel and that this was not the first exchange of such messages in the last few weeks. The same source told Haaretz last week that Putin was pressing Assad to lower Iran’s military profile in Syria in order to avert a major military clash with Israel. 

The 1974 Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria mandates that a UN-supervised buffer zone be established between the two countries, and that on either side of the demilitarized zone there should be a 10-kilometer wide strip where minimal forces are located. In addition, it outlines that surface-to-air missiles may not be placed within 25 kilometers of the separation lines.  

This latest exchange of messages, if the reports are accurate, are part of the Syrian regime’s plan to seize control over southern Syria, especially the Daraa province and the city of Daraa that is largely controlled by rebel militias, including offshoots of the Free Syrian Army. Reports from rebel forces say the Syrian army has already begun deploying in preparation for a military confrontation and ordered the Iranian militias to withdraw from around the city of Daraa in order to protect them from an assault. According to the same reports, convoys of pro-Iranian forces were observed redeploying several kilometers to the north and east of the city, and some were also spotted heading north toward Damascus. 

However, it is not clear whether this is part of a broader move towards withdrawing the pro-Iranian forces from Syria’s southern border or a temporary arrangement until the Syrian army takes control of the southern province. In anticipation of the battle in southern Syria, Jordan, Russia and the U.S. have held intensive discussions recently, with Jordan seeking American and Russian guarantees. Jordan seeks reassurance that Iranian forces will not move close to its border, that Syrian refugees will not come to Jordan in the wake of the Syrian military action and that the Syrian army will wage the military campaign itself and govern the territory it liberates from the rebels. Given these guarantees, Jordan would be willing to open the Nasib border crossing with Syria and resume the flow of goods between the two countries. 

As per the agreement signed in November between the U.S., Russia and Jordan (with Israeli representatives present at the discussions), Daraa and the surrounding area are included in the de-escalation zones. Last week, the U.S., which accused Russia of not upholding the agreement and proposed that all the Syrian and foreign militias must move back to a distance of 20-25 kilometers from the Jordanian border. This is in contrast to the original agreement that mentioned only the non-Syrian militias. According to the U.S. proposal, Russian police forces would patrol an area 18 kilometers from the Jordanian border, the regime would resume operating in Daraa province and the rebel militias would turn over their heavy weaponry. In addition, a joint Russian-American oversight mechanism would be established to ensure adherence to the agreement.

Russia has yet to respond to the new proposal, but the Western diplomat says Russia understands the Jordanians’ concerns and is likely to accept the agreement not only in southern Syria but also as a possible temporary solution to the military deployment on the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. 

The U.S. Embassy in Jordan sent a message to the former US-backed rebel leadership in southern Syria warning the militias not to launch any military actions against the Syrian forces that could be used as a pretext by Assad’s forces to take over the militias there and do in Daraa what they did in Ghoutta. The message said, “If you act in a way that violates the security zones agreement, we will not be able to defend you, and if the regime initiates an action that violates the agreement, we will do all that is in our power to stop the violation so as to ensure that the agreement remains intact,” the message said. 

The American warnings show that Washington is adhering to the security zones agreement and sees it as an “insurance policy” against a broader Iranian deployment in the area. 

A Jordanian analyst close to decision-makers in Jordan told Haaretz that there is near-daily communication between Jordan and Israel to coordinate the positions of Russia and the U.S., and that both take a similar view of the Iranian threat in Syria. 

Iran, which publicly denies that Iranian forces are deployed in southern Syria (but does not deny that pro-Iranian militias operate in the area), has not publicly commented on the reports and proposals for a redeployment of forces in southern Syria. Yet if the reports are true that Syria demanded that Iran remove its forces from Syrian airfields to prevent them being bombarded by Israel, there will probably soon be Iranian moves in the field that will help clarify to what extent, if any, Iran is responding to the Russian pressure and Israeli threat.

JPost reported on Wednesday that Israel and Russia have reached an agreement whereby Israel will not intervene to prevent the deployment of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops to the southern border and the Golan Heights, effectively reasserting Assad’s control there, and Moscow will make sure that these troops do not include Iranian or Hezbollah forces.

The Times of Israel is reporting this week that there was a rare incident of Israeli warplanes intercepted by Russian fighter jets over Lebanon early Monday morning, despite the understanding in place between Moscow and Jerusalem to avoid conflict between the two countries. 

Hadashot news, citing Lebanese and Russian media outlets, said that 2 Israeli Air Force F-16 planes were challenged by Sukhoi Su-34 jets over Tripoli and forced away. There has been no official confirmation from Russia or Israel. 

Video circulated of the Russian planes flying over Lebanon, but the clip did not show any Israeli jets. According to the reports cited by Hadashot, the Russian planes may have been taking part in drills off the coast of Lebanon and Syria but were forced to land due to bad weather conditions. 

Al Masdar news said it was the first time in months that Russian planes had entered Lebanese airspace from Syria. The news agency said the reason for the mission was unknown. 

On Sunday, Netanyahu told his cabinet that Israel was taking action against arms manufacturing in Lebanon and threatened continued fighting with Iran.


So far, the press is reporting the Jordan meeting as positive. The implication is that Iran may be acquiescing under the edicts of Russia and the new American sanctions against Iran announced by the White House last week. The new sanctions are designed by the United States to be “the strongest sanctions in history” on Iran. The White House not only demanded a full stop to Iran’s nuclear plans last week, but also a full withdrawal of forces from Syria, as well as a total end to supporting terror.

Thus, this week, we hear in the news about “secret” meeting between Israel and the Iranians.

Iran was said to be defiant in its response to the sanctions. Iranian President Hassan Rohani said Tehran does not accept the United States making decisions for it. Israel was very happy with the new US direction to put an end to all of Iran’s aggression.

We must ask ourselves if Iran’s quick response to have indirect talks with Israel is a ruse, a disguise to mask their intentions and to buy time to prepare for war. Could it be that Iran is trying to take Israel off guard?  

Articles in Haaretz and Ynet both gave warnings and insights about what might be coming to Israel from Iran. Haaretz, particularly, provides excellent secular insight to what I’ve been saying for a few years from the Biblical perspective. Neither news organization uses the Biblical titles “King of the North” or King of the South”, but they size up the current parties in exactly the same way as scripture. Let’s take a look at the Haaretz article first.

The modern Middle East has been plagued by ruinous wars: country versus country, civil wars with internecine and sectarian bloodletting, and numerous eruptions centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

But never in the last 70 years have they seemed as interconnected as now with Iran and Saudi Arabia vying for regional control, while Israel also seeks to maintain a military supremacy of its own.

Israel must maintain military supremacy given the nature of its enemies. However, as I’ve reported in the past, the US and Saudi Arabia use Israel for military purposes.

From a JPost article in October 2013 titled The World From Here: Why Jordan Relies On Israel To Secure The Jordan Valley, we read: The Hashemite Kingdom relies on Israel as its one neighbor that has maintained ironclad security along its 335-kilometer shared border and prevented terror groups and weaponry from reaching radical Islamic groups in PA-controlled areas of Jordan’s former West Bank that could be used against Jordan and Israel.

This Haaretz article titled Israel Tells U.S. It Would Act to Save Jordan From Islamists published in June 2014, says: Israeli diplomats have told their American counterparts that Israel would be prepared to take military action to save the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan if it came under attack by jihadist militants, the Daily Beast reported on Saturday. 

The chief concern is that an attack on Jordan would inevitably drag Israel and possibly the United States into the fighting.

I have been telling people that the U.S. understands that in the next Middle East war (which they know is coming), Jordan will be attacked. Any military strategist worth a bean can see what has to happen if Iran wants to get to its arch enemy, Saudi Arabia. The Israel-Jordan Treaty calls for Israel to defend Jordan in case of war.

This is why Iran will try to disable Israel first. Tehran knows that Israel is a superior military power in the Middle East. So, Tehran needs to buy precious time at indirect talks making it appear they are cooperating with Russia in withdrawing from several areas of Syria.

So, when I make the statement that the US and its Middle East allies are using Israel for their defense and other purposes, I’m not just making this up! Now back to the article.

Russia, the United States and Turkey are powerbrokers in a region where not only wars but proxy battlefields within those wars are on a feverish and hostile footing. 

The ongoing wars in Syria, Yemen, this week’s mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza, Turkish-Kurdish hostilities, and the potential for an all-encompassing war sparked by an Iranian-Israeli conflagration in Syria or Lebanon, all have tentacles that reach across borders and back again. 

Here’s a look at each of the main power players, whom they are aligned with, and what their ultimate goals are. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: Direct conflict with Iran. Israel sees Iran as its mortal enemy and ‘existential’ threat. Conflict with Iran would likely drag in Tehran’s ally, Hezbollah. An Israeli-Hezbollah conflict could play out in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, with each side warning it will strike across the opponent’s country. 

WHAT IT WANTS: Behind the scenes, Israel is building relations with Gulf nations also opposed to Iran.

A much weakened Iran, the continuation of the Gaza blockade — which is also imposed by Egypt — with a ferociously controlled border, and no concessions to the Palestinians with regards to land for peace. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: Iran has built up alliances to counter Israel and Saudi Arabia. In Syria, the presence of its troops and allied Shiite militias has been critical to President Bashar Assad’s survival. In Yemen, it is allied to Shiite Houthi rebels battling Saudi-backed forces. Tehran strongly supports the Palestinian cause, though its ties with Hamas have weakened. 

WHAT IT WANTS: Iran has pretty much accomplished a goal its officials have often trumpeted, building a corridor of power from Iran across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to the Mediterranean. In all those countries, it funds and arms powerful Shiite militias and has enormous political influence. It seeks a continuation of the nuclear deal with the other global signatories, hoping to bolster its financial coffers. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: President Vladimir Putin has ruthlessly filled the U.S. vacuum in Syria, waging an air campaign that has left a trail of dead in Aleppo and Ghouta among other locations. Moscow’s support of Assad turned the tide of war in his favor when defeat seemed imminent several years ago. Russia is also allied to Iran. 

WHAT IT WANTS: Russia’s regional goal is to sustain and build on the major foothold it now has in the Middle East, beyond Syria, notably where the U.S. might have been once before. 

Part of what Russia will now want, and will no doubt help Iran to achieve, is the conquest of Israel that now houses a U.S. military base. Whatever the U.S. wants, Russia wants. Get it? Russia will fight for it! 

Russia is the backer of Iran and Syria. These two nations simply funnel funds into Hezbollah and Syria and Iraq’s militia groups. The 4+1 Coalition is Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah backed b Russia. I believe this Coalition is the Bible’s King of the North. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: “Traditionally we’ve tried to play a role of fireman in the Middle East. Now we’re playing the role of arsonist,” says Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department and Pentagon official who runs the Mideast program at the Center for a New American Security. That seems to have plenty of currency in the region now, though some would also argue the U.S. has long played an incendiary role in the region, from reinstating the shah of Iran in the 1950s up to and including its wars in Iraq to the present day.

In other words, the U.S. has been meddling in Middle East affairs for a very long time which is why so many Middle Easterners hate Americans.

The Palestinians have essentially cut off contacts and say the U.S. cannot be an honest broker. So Trump’s promised “deal of the century” doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now. Trump withdrew from the Iran deal. He has by his side hawks like National Security Adviser John Bolton, who has advocated for attacking Iran and regime change. Trump can’t decide on Syria — to keep the U.S. presence or not? He doesn’t seem intent on ruffling Putin over Syria unless chemical weapons rear their head again, which prompted U.S.-led airstrikes last month. The administration is very closely allied to Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and seems set to continue following Riyadh’s lead on Yemen. Washington may get an unpleasant surprise if a heavily pro-Iran government emerges in Iraq after last week’s elections.

The close alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia is the reason why Saudi Arabia is putting together a coalition, headed by Israel, to take on Iran.

WHAT IT WANTS: The administration is in complete synch with Israel and Saudi Arabia. Saber-rattling with Iran could escalate, and it shows no urgency in pushing for Israel-Palestinian negotiations. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: Also emboldened by Trump, the Saudi crown prince is determined to make his mark. Riyadh is spending billions of dollars in the Yemen war, leading a Gulf Arab coalition against Iranian-allied Shiite Houthi rebels. Thousands of civilians have been killed by Saudi airstrikes and starvation in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Prince Mohammed has made vague threats that the kingdom will build a nuclear bomb if Iran starts its program again. 

Saudi Arabia sees Iran as the single greatest threat to the region and its competition for the dominant role it wants for itself. The kingdom is closely tied to Trump, who chose it as the destination for his first overseas trip as president, and it has been back-channeling with Israel. At the same time, it has lost influence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon after placing bets on losing partners or failed gambits. 

WHAT IT WANTS: Emasculation regionally of Iran and to be the dominant power in the region. 


WHAT’S AT STAKE: For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it’s almost exclusively about the Kurds, who in an alliance with the U.S. helped defeat the Islamic State group in Syria and in the process captured a quarter of the country. This has infuriated Turkey to the point it launched a military campaign seizing a pocket of northern Syria, and it threatens to attack Kurds all the way to the Iraqi border. The presence of U.S. forces among the Kurds is perhaps the only thing that’s held Turkey back this long. Ankara views Kurdish fighters in Syria as an extension of the Turkish Kurdish PKK, which it considers a terrorist group. 

Turkey also gives vocal support to the Palestinians, while relations are at a nadir with Israel. Turkey has also offered to take in wounded Palestinians from Gaza for treatment. 

WHAT IT WANTS: To break Kurdish strength and, above all, prevent a Kurdish autonomous mini-state in Syria along its border. It also wants some say in post-war Syria where it has supported opposition fighters and Islamist groups opposed to Assad.

Watch for Turkey to attempt to take the coming Caliphate from the Iran’s 4+1 Coalition after the coming war.

From YNET, the analysis is that the Israeli-Iranian conflict in Syria is seen by the Arab press as the beginning of the first war in which Israel isn’t fighting against Arabs, but rather against Persians.

Daniel chapter 11 has four Kings of the North. The first is Persian, the next two are Greek. We have to ask ourselves if the fourth King of the North will follow the pattern? And what is the pattern?

In my opinion, if the first King of the North was Persian and the next two are Greek, the fourth one will be Persian. I find it interesting that the Arab secular media is now making the distinction between Arabs and Persians.

The most critical reason I believe the Persians will be the King of the North is because they have the funds and the motive to attack the King of the South. Greece is impotent today. Perhaps this analysis will prove to be wrong if Middle East conditions continue long enough for the rising Persian empire to become impotent itself. However, the process of a nation rising to power and declining can take several hundred years. I don’t believe the earth has several hundred years before the Great Tribulation starts and Messiah comes to end it.

The YNET article, speaking about Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal, states: Trump’s declaration created an absurd situation: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) supported the declaration, while Britain, France and Germany lined up against the United States. 

Saudi commentator Abdulrahman al-Rashed wrote, “The European countries that are interested in the agreement with Iran couldn’t care less about the price the region’s countries are paying. They must decide if they’re with us or with Iran.”

The commentators believe Iran is facing a difficult dilemma due to the fact that Europe remained in the nuclear agreement after the US withdrawal. If it enriches uranium, the European countries will join the US. Furthermore, Israel and the US will be forced to launch a military operation against Iran, even if they aren’t interested in doing so at this time. 

Iran is very disappointed by the fact that the US, despite Trump’s declarations, has failed to pull its forces out of Syria, as well as by the fact that the Russian umbrella of defense is nonexistent when it comes to the battle against Israel.

This may be by design. Iran may put on a disappointed face knowing that down the road Russia will give its full backing for whatever Iran does.

The NEW YORK TIMES warned that an all-out war between Iran and Israel is approaching, and Trump has no strategy.

The tinderbox that is the Middle East threatens to explode again. Consider what has happened in the last weeks: a direct military exchange in Syria between Israel and Iran; the President’s walk away from the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal; the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem; and the Hamas-driven demonstrations in Gaza that sought to breach the Israeli border but failed, resulting in dozens of Palestinian deaths. 

None of these developments are likely to be limited in time or scope. If nothing else, they require a clear U.S. policy. 

To date, what President Trump is offering is far more rhetorical than practical. It is too soon to know whether the arrival of a new secretary of state and national security adviser will change that.

But unless we start trying constructively to shape events rather than reacting to them, and soon, the reality in the Middle East will surely worsen — and likely suck the United States in under worse circumstances.

I think Americans have no idea just how bad it’s going to become. Now back to the article.

While our attention was riveted on ISIS, Iran was expanding its reach. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now refers to Syria and Lebanon as part of Iran’s forward defense. Iran is not just entrenching itself in Syria, it has built a land bridge from Iran to the Mediterranean, going through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. And it is using Shia militia proxies from as far away as Afghanistan and Pakistan in Syria. 

Trump likes to blame Obama’s Iran deal for all this Iranian meddling, but that’s a highly simplistic interpretation. The fact is, Iran has been getting more aggressive on Trump’s watch, and his administration has done next to nothing to stop it. In fact, by ceding much of Syria to Russia, on at least one front, he has helped embolden the mullahs in Tehran.

Iran’s preference for working through proxies and threatening others indirectly has been the norm.

Iran prefers to have talks indirectly, too.

But in February of this year, the Qods Forces acted out of character: They sent an armed drone into Israeli airspace from Syria. By sending their own drone, the Qods Forces chose to challenge the Israelis directly. 

Israel, recognizing that a threshold was being crossed, reacted by shooting down the drone and taking out the Iranian command-and-control vans that launched and guided drones from their T-4 base in central Syria. This was just a prelude to Israel hitting a number of Iranian targets again — going after the Iranian capacity not simply to launch drones but missiles as well. 

Israel’s practice has been never to acknowledge these strikes, understanding that to publicly take credit would put the Iranians in a position of having to respond or else lose face. But the Russians “outed” the Israelis — and this was significant because at least seven Qods Force officers were killed in the Israeli strike.

Ah! So, Russia IS backing Iran, after all!

Knowing the Iranians might have to respond, the Russians chose to expose the Israelis anyway — no doubt signaling that they were not happy that they had not been forewarned when Russians were co-located at that base. Not surprisingly, the exposure led Iran to declare that it would retaliate. 

That retaliation would come one day after President Trump withdrew from the JCPOA. The timing was not an accident. The Iranians withheld their action, not wanting it to be used by the Trump administration as a reason to leave the JCPOA — but once freed of that concern, they launched missiles at Israel.

Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted four Iranian missiles that penetrated Israeli airspace and to prove the Iranians would pay a high price, the Israelis hit several Iranian and Shia proxy bases throughout Syria, destroying much of the Iranian military infrastructure in Syria. 

For now, it is clear the Iranians are not interested in escalating further with Israel. The character of their retaliation — firing only at Israeli positions in the Golan Heights and not civilian targets in the country — is a clear indication of that.

Why are the Iranians not interested in escalating the war with Israel right now? According to the NY Times, They are too busy consolidating their position in Syria to want to take on Israel at this stage.

They need more time to prepare. The they go to Jordan for indirect talks to put on a show.

But no one should be misled. Israel and Iran are on a collision course. Iran is determined to embed itself in Syria, and Israel is just as determined to ensure that Iran cannot create a presence in Syria that is similar to the one they have created in Lebanon, where Hezbollah now has over 120,000 rockets. Something has to give, and at this point, it seems only a matter of time before such a war starts. 

Unfortunately, it is easy to see how it starts but not how it ends.

Being on the sidelines seems to be the theme of the U.S. today in the Middle East.

All of this political maneuvering for the sake of an Iranian military stand-down is addressed in another YNET article, Iranian retaliatory strike put on hold, for now.

The Iranian Quds Force won’t retaliate against Israel in the coming days, defense establishment officials believe. 

According to Israeli estimates, Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani will use the coming weeks to analyze the events of the past few days and draw conclusions. It’s quite possible that he will eventually choose a different way to achieve the desired revenge against Israel. He may prefer to carry out other activities on the border, fire missiles of a longer range from Syria or even try to carry out an attack against Jewish institutions abroad. 

At the same time, defense establishment officials believe, the Quds Force will continue its efforts to find out how Israel uncovered their plans to entrench themselves in Syria.

Eleven Iranians were reportedly killed in the IDF’s latest strike. In light of the high sensitivity to Iranian deaths and the pressure from Tehran, the Quds Force will have trouble explaining another failed attack on Israel. 

Iran is therefore expected to enter a waiting period and hold an internal debate on whether it should keep investing resources in its entrenchment in Syria and risk a conflict with Israel, on the background of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and the difficult economic situation in Iran. 

The Israeli estimate still stands despite Iranian Parliament Member Ahmad Khatami’s threat over the weeks to “expand the range of missiles against Israel, flatten Haifa and destroy Tel Aviv if Israel tries to carry out a foolish operation against Iran.”

Israeli sources have confirmed that the IDF was responsible for the attack on the T-4 airbase in Syria, as well as for the strikes in the cities of Aleppo and Homs. We also learned that one of the weapons depots that was destroyed contained a new delivery of an air defense system from Iran, which Suleimani had planned to use to disrupt Israel’s freedom of action. Another delivery, which was destroyed three weeks ago, included long-range missiles from Iran which were the Quds Force was planning to use in its retaliatory attack. 

Meanwhile, the IDF and defense establishhment are maintaining a high state of alert and being careful not to fall into complacency or smugness. In the past month, we have seen a strong and prepared IDF, which was able to restrain the political echelon and curb proposals raised by cabinet ministers to expand the activity against Iran in Syria. The army’s real test, however, will take place if and when Hezbollah decides to join the conflict.

So far, the Iranians have left Hezbollah out of the circle of conflict and have avoided pressuring the organization to join, understanding that it won’t be able to comply with the demand in the current political reality in Lebanon. Israeli officials believe Hezbollah has developed independence vis-à-vis Iran and has its own considerations now. “It’s no longer a puppet,” an Israeli source says.

This is where we should stop and ask the ministers, who have been walking around all smug following the successful strike in Syria, what have they done to ready the home front for the next conflict and why haven’t they pushed for the transfer of funds to local authorities to build bomb shelters and safe rooms in northern Israel.

We aren’t talking about a lot of money here: NIS 2 billion (about $560 million) are enough solve the fortification problem up to 40 kilometers from the border. In the meantime, the Defense and Finance ministries have allotted just NIS 150 million.

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