Just as opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu refused to attend former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s security briefings, he also refuses to attend those of our new Prime Minister Yair Lapid.
What Netanyahu is trying to convey is that Lapid is “beneath him.” He has made it clear that he only wants to receive security updates from Lapid’s military secretary, but without Lapid being present. In doing so, he is undermining an important process.
Had Netanyahu bothered to get an update over the weekend, he would have learned about the latest strike attributed to the Israeli Air Force in Syria, which targeted an area to the south of Tartus. The strike may have seemed routine, but the target was highly unusual.
It turns out that Iran has recently been making clandestine efforts to smuggle air defense systems and equipment into Syria. The Iranians are desperate to build up Syrian air defenses in order to disrupt the IAF’s repeated attacks on their storage facilities.
Al-Arabiya reported over the weekend that the Iranian project, which has been kept secret, is led by senior Islamic Revolutionary Guards officer Muhammad Sakai, who has been seen visiting Damascus several times recently. Sakai met with members of the Syrian Air Force and, apparently, cooperates fully with them. Iran smuggles the air defense equipment into Syria via the same air and land routes it uses to smuggle weapons.
Saturday’s strike appears to have targeted air defense equipment that had already made its way to Syria. One can assume that Israel is determined to make sure the Iranian plot does not succeed and that its air defense superiority is maintained.
The fact that Sakai’s role has been revealed should make clear to him that he and his actions are not a secret, and he ought to worry about his physical safety from now on.
The recent targeting of an Israeli gas field by Hezbollah drones indicates a similar Iranian effort in Lebanon. Hezbollah will try to justify the incident via the ongoing maritime controversy between Lebanon and Israel, but these are baseless claims. There is no real controversy, and even if there were, it would not warrant a military attack. But Hezbollah’s willingness to act on behalf of Iran and endanger Lebanon shows that Israel’s northern border is more volatile than ever.
These events also show that despite Israel’s efforts to thwart Iran, the regime is determined to continue on its path. In this respect, Lapid’s tenure will not be much different from those of his predecessors: He too is expected to continue to act against Iran with all available means.
Yoav Limor is a veteran journalist and defense analyst.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.