Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Israel and Gaza. Show all posts

12 September 2017

Israel's Bombing of a Weapons Factory in Syria: What Comes Next?

by Elliott Abrams

This week Israel bombed a site in Syria, from Lebanese air space. This was the so-called Scientific Studies and Researchers Center in Masyaf, a city in central Syria, and it was hit because it is a military site where chemical weapons and precision bombs are said to be produced. Israel had made clear in a series of statements in the last six months that such a facility in Syria producing such weapons for use by Hezbollah against Israel would not be tolerated.

I was reminded of 2007 and 2008, when Israeli officials repeatedly told me and other American officials that the rocketing of Israel by Hamas in Gaza was intolerable. If it does not stop, they said, an operation is inevitable. They meant it, and the result was Operation Cast Lead, which began on December 27, 2008. We in the Bush administration had been given fair warning.

Today again, Israel has given the United States fair warning that there are limits to what Israel will tolerate in Iranian conduct and the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has long intervened, perhaps 100 times over the years, to stop advanced weaponry from being transferred by Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Those were moving targets: caravans of trucks carrying such weaponry. But this week there was a stationary target, and I imagine the decision to fire from Lebanese air space was also a message—to Iran, Syria, and Lebanon.

10 September 2017

Israel Has Launched Its Largest Military Exercise in Almost 20 Years

BY RHYS DUBIN

The Israeli military is in the midst of its largest military exercise in nearly two decades, focusing on a potential war with Hezbollah. 

Held in the north of the country, the roughly two-week drill – dubbed “The Light of Grain” – comes amid rising tension along the Lebanese-Israeli border, where Hezbollah, the Lebanese political party and militia, has maintained a presence for decades.

The drill will simulate “scenarios we’ll be facing in the next confrontation with Hezbollah,” an Israeli defense source told Agence France-Presse.

Tens of thousands of soldiers from multiple branches of the Israeli Defense Forces – including the air force, navy, ground units, intelligence, and cyber command – are set to participate.

On Thursday, senior Hezbollah leader Sheikh Mohammad Yazbek, the head of Hezbollah’s governing Sharia Council, dismissed the operation. “The maneuvers that [Israel] is conducting on the border are part of coercions after the triumphs that [Hezbollah] has made against terrorism,” he said, according to the Daily Star.

The line of demarcation between the two countries has been relatively peaceful since the last war in 2006. However, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah have increased steadily over the last several months due at least in part to Israeli actions on the border and Hezbollah’s deep involvement in the Syrian war.

2 September 2017

HOW ISRAEL WON THE WAR AND DEFEATED THE PALESTINIAN DREAM

BY GREGG CARLSTROM 

It was the end of Ramadan, a few days before Eid al-Fitr, a time of feasts and family. But the housewives shopping in a Gaza City market were buying just a few handfuls of vegetables and small pieces of meat. “Nobody can use their refrigerators,” one vendor explains; the power is out for much of the day, and food spoils quickly here. It was the start of a typically harsh summer, with daytime temperatures in the 90s, and in one office after the next, politicians and professors apologized to visitors for the heat—their air conditioners were useless.

After three wars and a decade-long military blockade, Gaza's nearly 2 million people are familiar with hardship. This summer’s power crisis is merely the latest in a long list of shortages of everything from drinking water and cooking gas to cement and cars. But this time, one thing is different: The problem has been created by other Palestinians.

Until recently, Israel provided Gaza with about half of its electricity, paid for by the Palestinian Authority, the internationally recognized body that governs the West Bank. But in April, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, decided to reduce those payments by 40 percent, and on June 11, at the request of the PA, the Israeli security Cabinet approved a commensurate cut in the supply. Most Gazans received just four hours of electricity at a time, followed by 12-hour blackouts; now, they get about two and a half hours at a stretch.

1 September 2017

An Israeli War with Hezbollah Risks War with Iran


In a speech on August 13, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary General, reassured his public that Israel will not attack Hezbollah and Lebanon, arguing that Israeli officials believe “any war on Lebanon, no matter its objectives, will not be worth the costs Israel will incur in such a war.” In other words, Israel will go to war only if faced with no other course of action.

In his speech, Nasrallah was addressing two audiences: a Lebanese public that was concerned about an impending Israeli attack as a result of the usual summer war of words between Hezbollah and Israel; and Israeli citizens. The mutual deterrence regime that has been in place in southern Lebanon since the end of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah has benefited constituencies on both sides of the border.

Nevertheless, Hezbollah and Israeli officials have engaged in occasional rhetorical escalation since 2006, partly to convey to the opponent their resolve and readiness to fight and partly as a psychological warfare tactic to sow fear in their opponent’s constituency. Both sides paint apocalyptic images of this war – Israel threatens to level all of Lebanon’s infrastructure, while Hezbollah vows to strike Israeli nuclear facilities in Dimona.

Israel and Hezbollah Eye Their Next War


FRITZ LODGE 

On August 15, Israel’s Channel 2 news revealed satellite photos of an Iranian missile production facility near the town of Baniyas in northwestern Syria, capable of producing long-range rockets. Iran’s formidable military presence in Syria is nothing new, but the revelation of this production facility underlines how deeply the war in Syria has changed the balance of military power in the eastern Mediterranean.

Faced with the possible collapse of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, Iran and its regional proxies have poured millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers into its Syrian ally. Now, with Russian help, that investment has paid off, and the regime has reestablished control over much of central Syria, and is stabilizing the front along “de-confliction zones” guaranteed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

This is a problem for Israel. As the battle lines in Syria begin to stabilize, Iran and its allies will be able to focus more energy and attention on the Jewish state. Nowhere is this threat clearer than in Lebanon, where the Iran-allied and financed group of Hezbollah boasts thousands of soldiers, deep political influence in the Lebanese government, and an arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets. At the moment, Hezbollah deploys roughly 5,000 fighters in Syria – roughly one quarter of its standing forces. If and when those fighters return to Lebanon, Hezbollah leaders may feel emboldened to step up attacks on Israeli soil. The question for Israeli leaders is not only how to face this threat when it appears, but whether to strike now while its enemies are still distracted in Syria.

26 August 2017

Has Netanyahu Defeated the Palestinians?

Daniel Levy

Israel has undoubtedly scored some wins, while the Palestinian leadership has suffered from division and strategic ineptitude.

The long-running police investigations into the affairs of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to cross a Rubicon earlier this month. Netanyahu is under suspicion in a number of cases involving alleged bribery, fraud and breach of trust, among other things. A deal has now been reached by the State Prosecutor’s Office for Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Ari Harow, to turn state’s witness—an arrangement rarely agreed to unless a strong case is being built against a more senior and serious criminal actor.

With the likelihood of his being indicted and speculation as to his longevity in office reaching unprecedented levels, Netanyahu struck back. In a support rally convened by his Likud Party, Netanyahu accused “the thought police in the media,” together with the left, and supported by the Palestinians, of conducting an “unprecedented, obsessive witch-hunt campaign” against him and his family. Their goal, he claimed, was to stage “a government overthrow” to topple “the national camp.” Both the style and substance of Netanyahu’s fiery rhetoric should have sounded very familiar to anyone in America not asleep for the past seven months.

22 August 2017

US Tech Firms Race to Hire Israeli Army Engineers

BY JOHN DETRIXHE

New offices and nonstop flights from Silicon Valley to Tel Aviv illustrate a talent rush for prized former military specialists.

United Airlines started a three-flights-per-week service from San Francisco to Tel Aviv last year. It was so popular that the carrier now runs the route every day, with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

It’s another sign of the insatiable global demand for technology talent, with former Israeli army engineers particularly prized. The world’s tech giants snap them up as fast as the government can train them.

Amazon, for example, is reportedly boosting its presence in Israel by renting 11 floors in a new Tel Aviv tower building. Google has been there for more than a decade, and now Wall Street banks run initiatives across the city. China is pouring in money, on top of Silicon Valley venture capital.

Israel’s unusually high rate of entrepreneurship—it’s not known as “start-up nation” for nothing—is partly attributed to the army, which maintains compulsory service and selects many of the country’s brightest minds for its intelligence division. The army’s elite Talpiot recruits are credited with helping develop missile defense systems, while Unit 8200 produces some of the world’s most formidable cybersecurity experts.

20 August 2017

Israel girds for next round of battle in Gaza Strip

By: Barbara Opall-Rome 

TEL AVIV, Israel ― Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.

Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.

Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”

During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”

He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.

19 August 2017

Israel Girds for Next Round of Battle in Gaza Strip


Israel on Thursday released detailed intelligence on how Hamas is using newly constructed residential buildings in the coastal strip to disguise the expansion of underground tunnels and command centers from which the Jewish state says the group plans to wage urban war against it.

Israel released the intel to make its case for what it insists is an unwanted, yet potentially necessary new round of combat in Gaza.

Briefing reporters here, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Southern Command, described two homes carefully mapped out by military intelligence ― complete with geolocation target coordinates ― that he insists prove “beyond a shadow of doubt that Hamas is operating within and underneath the cover of civilians, in preparation for the next war.”

During the highly unusual briefing aimed at bolstering Israel’s case should it need to destroy the structures built in heavily populated residential neighborhoods, Zamir insisted Israel possesses “many more such targets beyond what we’re showing you.”

He repeatedly referred to the structures ― one a six-story building and private parking lot with access to a tunnel network, and the other a family home with an entrance to a tunnel that connects to a nearby mosque ― as legitimate targets. “I say these are legitimate military targets, and whoever is endangering himself and his family needs to hold Hamas responsible for what happens,” he said.

The IDF commander said Israel is “fully aware” of the humanitarian distress to the nearly 2 million residents of Gaza, many of whom are subsisting at below poverty levels with a mere four hours of electricity each day. If Israel has to act, Zamir said, it will do so with technology, tactics and procedures aimed at minimizing the so-called collateral damage to uninvolved civilians.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that civilians would be harmed, which is exactly what Hamas and other Gaza-based groups are counting on “in order to try to damage Israel’s legitimacy.” …

12 August 2017

Everything Israel's Gaza Wars Can Teach America

Michael Peck

What can the U.S. military learn from Israeli military operations in Gaza?

Plenty—and yet not much, according to a new study by RAND Corporation, which examined Operation Cast Lead in 2009 and Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

For starters, smart weapons are no panacea. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attempted to destroy Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels with airpower alone (surprising in light of the failure of such an approach in the 2006 Lebanon War). Lack of success meant ground troops had to be sent in.

The failure of airpower meant the revival of artillery. The IDF barely used artillery in 2009, but used lots of big guns in 2014. “On a technical and tactical level, the IDF’s use of artillery support was impressive,” RAND noted. “It increased its use of precision artillery from earlier campaigns and reduced the minimum safe distances for providing fire support. Artillery fire often proved quicker and more responsive than other means of firepower, such as CAS [close air support].”

Armor also proved its worth in Gaza. “Before Protective Edge, the IDF invested in intelligence and airpower, often at the expense of particularly heavy armor,” RAND found. Or as Israeli sources told RAND, “Half a year before, they closed the Namer [a tank converted into a troop carrier] and we said it was a mistake; and immediately after, they reopened the project. You need protection. Mobility is protection.”

10 August 2017

Israeli Investigators Getting Closer to Charging Bibi Netanyahu With Fraud, Bribery and Other Crimes


JERUSALEM — Political cartoons depict flames licking at the foundations of the fortresslike household of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Commentators say the noose is tightening around his neck.

For months, Mr. Netanyahu has been under investigation in two separate, leak-ridden graft cases involving illicit gifts from wealthy friends and back-room dealings with a local newspaper magnate in a bid for favorable coverage. The latest blow came just before the weekend, when the Israeli police signed a state’s witness deal with Ari Harow, Mr. Netanyahu’s former chief of staff and once one of his closest confidants.

A day earlier, in a legal document pertaining to the negotiations with Mr. Harow, the police said in writing, for the first time, that Mr. Netanyahu was suspected of bribery, as well as fraud and breach of trust.

In light of these developments, analysts say, it appears likely that Israel’s longest-serving prime minister after David Ben-Gurion will ultimately face charges, injecting his fourth term with a new level of turbulence and intrigue. The question now, his critics say, is how long he can stave off what they view as his looming political demise.

7 August 2017

FIVE LESSONS FROM ISRAEL’S WARS IN GAZA

RAPHAEL S. COHEN

Israel faces a unique strategic dilemma along its western border. Since the Islamic militant group Hamas took over Gaza in 2007, Hamas and Israel have engaged in continuous tit-for-tat violence over this narrow strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea. This low-level violence has escalated into all-out war three times: Operations Cast Lead (2009), Pillar of Defense, (2012) and Protective Edge (2014). Yet, as much as Israel may disdain Hamas, Israel cannot simply get rid of it, both because it does not want to govern Gaza itself and because it fears what may come next. The strategic challenge becomes how to deter Hamas’ violence but keep them firmly in control of the Strip, or, in the words of the above-quoted analyst, “break their bones but not send them to the hospital.”

Israel’s challenges in Gaza are compounded by two additional factors. While Israel, the United States, and others regard Hamas as a terrorist organization, it governs Gaza as a pseudo state — making Hamas a classic hybrid actor with capabilities beyond those of many other terrorist groups. Moreover, Gaza is also one of the most densely populated areas in the world, forcing Israel Defense Force (IDF) to operate against an adversary that is embedded within a civilian population.

Secrecy and Signaling

By Rastislav Bílik

One of the most pressing issues of mankind remains the issue of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. They remain on the fringes of our awareness, researched by academics and portrayed in films and television shows at plot catalysts (sometimes with debatable accuracy of their portrayal). Unfortunately, these weapons are often sought by states as “the ultimate weapon,” believed to be the best instrument of deterrence. Israel is no exception, and its nuclear policy presents a compelling case of a nuclear-armed state. This policy contradicts the very foundations of deterrence theory; it is distinctive for its secrecy and ambiguity, very unique characteristics when compared to nuclear policies of other nuclear powers. It has not changed for several decades, and its effectiveness and adequacy for present conditions is thus, after the emergence of Iranian nuclear ambitions, often subject of debates.

Israel belongs to the group of the so-called de facto nuclear states, a group which also includes India and Pakistan; these countries built their own nuclear arsenal outside the framework of Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Because Israel is not a signing party of the treaty, there is no legal obligation for Israeli nuclear facilities to be subject to regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.[1] In the case of Israel, these inspections are voluntary and only conducted in declared facilities. The program as a whole is not overseen by the international community, and there is no official way to get information about it. The majority of available information is thus based on expert estimates, in some cases open source information (such as satellite images), or even information leaks, such as the 1986 leak in which Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the Dimona nuclear facility, published details and photographs about the situation in the facility and disclosed a considerable amount of information about Israel’s nuclear programme.[2] Availability of information is thwarted not just by secrecy, however, but also by censorship. Israeli authors are required to submit any publication dealing with issues of security to the censor, who is charged with assessing the degree of ambiguity of the text in terms of government’s requirements.[3]

2 August 2017

China, India, and Israel's Strategic Calculus

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Yitzhak Shichor – Professor Emeritus and The Michael William Lipson Chair in Chinese Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel – is the 101st in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Assess key outcomes of Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s recent visit to Israel.

To appreciate the full significance of Modi’s visit, one has to know the history of Israel-India relations. Reluctantly, India recognized Israel on September 18, 1950, the fifth Asian country [to do so], but, because no full diplomatic relations were approved for over 40 years, Israel was unofficially represented by an honorary consul in Calcutta. Yet, the two countries maintained backdoor relations, which included Israeli military shipments following the 1962 Sino-Indian confrontation. Because of its rivalry with Pakistan, substantial Muslim population, and dependence on Arab oil, India preferred to hide these relations.

In fact, India, and Asia in general, had not been that important for Israel before the early 1990s. By that time, India could no longer fall behind China, which set up relations with Israel and thereby facilitated its breakthrough to Asia. Since then India’s relations with Israel have prospered, with India becoming Israel’s leading arms market and a substantial economic partner. Yet, no Indian leader had dared set foot in Israel until Modi’s arrival. Needless to say, scores of framework agreements were signed but because military and economic relations have been going on anyway, and because India has hardly changed its political orientation and association with the Arabs and the Palestinians, the main outcome of the visit, and still the most significant, was symbolic.

24 July 2017

Information Warfare: Israel Plays Rough


July 12, 2017: The Israeli domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet, similar to the British MI5) recently confirmed what was already widely known among hackers; trying to hack Israeli networks will often trigger instant counter-hacks that will at least halt the hackers with unexpected error messages or, worse, generate a powerful counter-hack directed against the attackers system. The worst result is that, as several thousand foreign hackers have already discovered, the Israelis will identify who you are and where you are operating from. If the hacker is in a nation that has extradition or similar arrangements with Israel the hacker can start worrying about getting arrested or, at the very least, being placed under investigation and added to a list of the usual suspects.

Shin Bet could not hide the fact that it was expanding its Cyber War operations and recruiting additional personnel. So announcements like this are considered part PR and part recruiting. Since 2010 various Israeli government and military organizations have been seeking additional staff for new Cyber War efforts that can detect and thwart enemy hackers. This included seeking expert hackers willing to train to operate in the field with Israeli commando units. That new Cyber War unit was actually part of military intelligence and sought recruits from those already in the military as well as civilians.

18 July 2017

Israel’s Secret Arab Allies

By NERI ZILBER

TEL AVIV — United States and Israeli officials seem convinced that a regional peace agreement between Israel and the Arab world may be in the offing. On his recent trip to the Middle East, President Trump said that a “new level of partnership is possible and will happen — one that will bring greater safety to this region, greater security to the United States and greater prosperity to the world.” The main stumbling block remains the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an emotive issue that still carries strategic weight in Arab capitals. Yet the president isn’t completely wrong. Across the Middle East these days, often away from the headlines, Israel finds itself deeply involved in Arab wars.

The clearest manifestation of what is frequently called “the new Middle East” can be found in Syria. Mr. Trump himself infamously alluded to Israel’s strategic reach when he told visiting Russian diplomats about information obtained by covert Israeli intelligence operations against the Islamic State. According to subsequent reports, Israeli military intelligence had hacked into the computer networks of Islamic State bomb makers in Syria. A few weeks later, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israel was intensifying its security and intelligence cooperation with Jordan in southern Syria to stave off Iranian gains in the area.

17 July 2017

As Palestinian leaders fight over Gaza, Israel worries Hamas will go to war


By William Booth and Hazem Balousha

GAZA CITY — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is pursuing a high-risk campaign in the Gaza Strip to squeeze his own people so hard that they might force the Islamist militant movement Hamas to surrender control of the isolated coastal enclave. 

The 82-year-old leader’s Palestinian Authority, which runs the West Bank but has only limited sway in Gaza, has slashed salaries for its employees in the seaside territory, withheld permissions for medical patients to leave and, in its most dramatic step, cut payments for the electricity provided to Gaza by Israel. 

Israel fears Hamas might lash out with rocket fire, and the World Bank worries the strip could collapse. The United Nations on Tuesday declared that a decade of Hamas rule, Palestinian infighting and crippling blockades by Israel and Egypt have made life for people in Gaza “more and more wretched” each day. 

But Abbas has said he is prepared to go even further, threatening to impose sanctions against Hamas and freeze funds for its leaders “if they continue to rule Gaza and use the money of the Palestinian people to strengthen their hold on power,” according to an interview he gave to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper. 

15 July 2017

** Information Warfare: Israel Plays Rough


July 12, 2017: The Israeli domestic intelligence service (Shin Bet, similar to the British MI5) recently confirmed what was already widely known among hackers; trying to hack Israeli networks will often trigger instant counter-hacks that will at least halt the hackers with unexpected error messages or, worse, generate a powerful counter-hack directed against the attackers system. The worst result is that, as several thousand foreign hackers have already discovered, the Israelis will identify who you are and where you are operating from. If the hacker is in a nation that has extradition or similar arrangements with Israel the hacker can start worrying about getting arrested or, at the very least, being placed under investigation and added to a list of the usual suspects.

Shin Bet could not hide the fact that it was expanding its Cyber War operations and recruiting additional personnel. So announcements like this are considered part PR and part recruiting. Since 2010 various Israeli government and military organizations have been seeking additional staff for new Cyber War efforts that can detect and thwart enemy hackers. This included seeking expert hackers willing to train to operate in the field with Israeli commando units. That new Cyber War unit was actually part of military intelligence and sought recruits from those already in the military as well as civilians.

10 July 2017

Can Russian UAVs Close the Gap with America or Israel?

Samuel Bendett

In a recent interview to Russian daily RIA-NOVOSTI news agency, Russian Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin made a number of interesting statements about his country's state of military unmanned aerial aviation. Referring to his country's falling behind such UAV leaders as US and Israel, Rogozin confidently remarked that Russia's gap with these two technology leaders has been greatly lessened, and soon Moscow would completely catch up to these two nations and achieve UAV parity. Rogozin specifically noted that he was referring to intelligence-gathering drones, or ISR (intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance duties), as well as combat (strike) UAVs. According to him, there are "no grounds for concern in connection with any (technological) lag...From the point of view of the development of communication channels, from the point of view of the availability of weapons, from the point of view of the unmanned systems themselves, I can say only one thing: there is no need to speak about any lag. It has been sharply reduced and will be completely eliminated in the near future."

Were Rogozin to speak in 2025-2030, perhaps his statements may ring true, to an extent. Russia is currently trying to develop a range of unmanned aerial systems, pursuing a wide range of projects dealing with small to mid-sized UAVs, quadrocopter/multi-rotor models, unmanned helicopters, as well as larger, long-range machines capable of potentially carrying weapons. For example, during the recent International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg, a Russian company Radar MMS introduced several unmanned helicopter models, including large BPV-500 prototype capable of carrying weapons. Other recent major developments include Kalashnikov Design Bureau's Zala 421-16E2 noiseless reconnaissance and surveillance drone. In fact, there are major announcements related to UAV developments, testing and evaluation coming out of Russia almost on a weekly basis. However, many such statements deal with prototypes or test beds, and that is hardly equal to thousands of American and Israeli UAVs operating across the world on a daily basis.

7 July 2017

From Osirak to Yongbyon

By Dr. Alon Levkowitz

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: North Korea is moving forward with its development of an ICBM that can carry a nuclear warhead. Will Pyongyang test it, challenging Washington to strike its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon? If Washington does strike, will Pyongyang choose to react passively as Syria did in 2007, or will it respond by starting a war with South Korean and American forces in the region? Although both sides use militant rhetoric, neither will choose to challenge the other. They will instead upgrade their deterrence capabilities. 

On June 7, 1981, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed Osirak, the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad, Iraq. The attack was very successful and Iraq never retaliated. The message was heard loud and clear across the Middle East – Israel will not tolerate a nuclear threat to its national interests, not even from a country with which it does not share a border and from which the likelihood of an attack is relatively low.

Twenty-six years later, on September 6, 2007, the Israeli Air Force attacked the Syrian nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, in northeast Syria. Unlike Iraq, Syria does share a border with Israel. Then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his advisors had to calculate the likelihood that Syria would perceive the attack as a casus belli. If it did, the strike on the reactor was tantamount to going to war with Syria.

Syria decided against starting a war with Israel; nor did it respond with a limited attack. The only state to condemn Israel for the strike was North Korea, which had assisted Syria in building the reactor.