Sunday, Jan. 11th 2009

The Telegraph: Iran’s Involvement in Gaza

Con Coughlin analyzes the Israel-Gaza conflict as part of a larger continuing attack by Iran upon Israel in The Telegraph.

Israel’s relentless offensive to crush the radical Palestinian Hamas movement in Gaza is the opening salvo of the country’s wider campaign to confront the mounting threat posed by Iran to the survival of the Jewish state.
While the Israeli military’s immediate focus is to destroy Hamas’s ability to terrorise Israel’s southern border, the military campaign should be seen within the wider context of Israel’s growing resolve to deal with the combined danger of Iran’s continuing support for Islamic terrorist groups and its controversial uranium enrichment programme. The Israeli government sees both of these as direct threats to the country’s existence.

So far as Israel is concerned, 2009 is the year that, given Iran’s current rate of progress with uranium enrichment, will decide whether the mullahs succeed in their dream of becoming a nuclear power. Given the repeated statements President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran has made about destroying Israel, the Israelis are rightly concerned that a nuclear-armed Iran would constitute a grave threat to its future survival.

At the same time the Israeli authorities are deeply alarmed by Iran’s continued support for radical Islamic groups located on the country’s northern and southern borders, both of which are committed to Israel’s ultimate destruction. Both the radical Shia Hizbollah militia in southern Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza are funded and equipped by the Iranian regime, whose Revolutionary Guards travel regularly to the region to brief the groups on strategy.

Even more detail is provided by a recent article in The Cutting Edge News.

Those 40 km missiles Hamas is unleashing against Israeli cities are certainly not “amateur rockets… nagging the residents” of Israeli cities, as a Palestinian journalist recently wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

The press calls the rockets “Grads” or “Katyushas,” the Russian name given several generations ago to the original Soviet-made surface-to-surface missiles. Today, it would be more correct to label some of the missiles by their real name, the “Arash,” the name given to them by their Iranian manufacturers. The long-range 120 mm mortars raining down on Israel are also Iranian in origin. The mortars are equipped with auxiliary motors to increase their range from six to ten kilometers.

The longest range “Grads” were manufactured in China and but (sic) many of these too were smuggled to Hamas via Iran. Visitors to Sderot’s rocket heap museum of spent missiles can view Iranian-made weapons for themselves.

Analysis:Most of the media is focusing on the death and destruction suffered by Gazans, many of whom are not guilty of any actions against Israel. But that focus benefits Iran as it continues to orchestrate a swirling maelstrom around Israel while continuing progress on the enrichment of Uranium. As both the Telegraph and The Cutting Edge News note, Israel recognizes the larger threat posed by this plan. The challenge for Israel is to find an effective strategy to counter Hamas in Gaza while retaining sufficient credibility to convince allies of the Iranian encirclement (threats from Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, and, in the future, nuclear armed rockets) strategy.

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