No one will officially acknowledge that, with due notice to Russian forces in Syria and Moscow's okay, Israel is carrying out strategic bombing sorties in Syria. The last one took place early Wednesday morning near the Al-Maza Military Airfield in western Damascus, Syria's capital city.
What was hit? Whatever it was, it caused a large fire and damaged a number of building and aircraft.
Apparently, Israel is engaging in a campaign against Syrian targets. Last week various reports indicated two other airstrikes in Syria. A depot and convoy were destroyed.
Why is Israel doing this, and why now?
Wednesday, after the early morning attack, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman gave an indirect explanation. Speaking to a group of European Union ambassadors visiting Israel. News of the strike, including Damascus's finger of blame pointing at Jerusalem, Lieberman did not deny that Israel was responsible. Instead, he said, Israel is working to thwart the transfer of advanced weapons and WMDs from Syria to Hezbollah.
"We act primarily to protect the safety of our citizens and defend our sovereignty, and we're trying to prevent the smuggling of sophisticated weapons, military equipment and weapons of mass destruction from Syria to Hezbollah," he said.
Hezbollah is the so-called "Party of Allah." Based in Lebanon, Israeli experts esitmate it has assembled an arsenal of 150,000 rockets intended for Israel. Hezbollah, a known vassal of Iran, has received almost all the missiles, including advanced guidance technology, from Tehran.
Lieberman also reiterated that Israel has no intention of interfering in the civil war in Syria. Instead, he said, Israel is relatively indifferent. "When I am asked, time and time again, what should be the nature of a possible future accord in Syria, I say, and repeat, that it doesn't matter what accord it reached because in any case, the Iranians and Assad cannot be part of the accord."
The Defense Minister also told the European ambassadors that cooperation between Hamas in Gaza and the Islamic State's (ISIS) Sinai branch has increased in recent months.
"In today's world, it's clear you cannot count on the international community, and each country should only rely on itself," he said.
On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lieberman said it would not be realistic or possible to reach a permanent accord with the Palestinians in the coming years because of the extreme positions of Palestinian Authority leader Mahdmoud Abbas.
"That's why the idea of a final-status agreement will be delayed by at least a few years, and in the meanwhile we need to allow for normal life in Judea and Samaria for both Jews and Palestinians," he said.
He asserted that "it's clear today that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the center or the reason of instability in the Middle East. Despite that, European leaders continue treating it as the biggest problem in the world."
Lieberman lamented the fact that "at least 500 people are killed in the Middle East every day—from South Sudan to Iraq. It's a lot graver and more important than what's happening in Amona, but you don't see any mention of it in European media."
"It's hypocritical of you to keep talking about the settlements all the time," he added. "I'm waiting for you to start talking about North Korea and Iran's ballistic missiles."
Based on the original report by Yoav Zitun, Brian Schrauger's original contribution was to the first half of this article. Yitun's original article, published by YNet News, is at http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4889749,00.html