Monday, January 28, 2013

28-Jan-13: Temperatures are distinctly rising on Israel's Syrian front

IDF soldier standing guard beside an Iron Dome anti-missile battery in Haifa [Image Source]
The November fighting and associated tensions in Israel's south have barely abated. Still, given the nature of the neighbourhood in which we live, quiet is the exception rather than the norm. Several extract-reports below provide a snapshot of aspects of the rising drama on Israel's northern border. 

Two Iron Dome Batteries Deployed in Northern Israel
Yoav Zitun, Ynet | Two Iron Dome batteries have been deployed in northern Israel over the past few days, the IDF said on Sunday. One battery of the missile-defense system was deployed in the Krayot area, while the other was installed in the Galilee region. Additional, fully operational batteries have already been deployed in the Haifa area and in other locations... It remains unclear how long the Iron Dome batteries will remain deployed in the north at a time when Israel is closely monitoring the situation in Syria for fear that its chemical weapons stockpile will be transferred to Hezbollah... Iron Dome systems have already been installed in the south and the Tel Aviv metropolitan area... The IDF is expected to get two additional operational batteries this year. The army's goal is to have 10 Iron Dome batteries within the next few years. [more]
Jodi Rudoren and Anne Barnard, New York Times January 27, 2013 | Israel deployed at least one Iron Dome missile defense battery in northern Israel on Sunday amid reports of intense security consultations regarding the possibility of Syrian chemical weapons falling into the hands of Islamist rebels or being transferred to Hizbullah. "If there will be a need, we will take action to prevent chemical weapons from being transferred to Islamic terror organizations," Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio. "Something is happening for sure," said Ehud Yaari, a senior security analyst with Israel's Channel 2 News. "Even in Israel, which is usually tense...this is exceptional now"... [more]
Reuters, January 26, 2013 | Syrian opposition fighters have freed 300 prisoners from Idlib Central Prison near the border with Turkey and found 30 others shot in the head by their jailers, an opposition activist said on Saturday... Syrian authorities have jailed tens of thousands of people since the start of the uprising against Assad 22 months ago. Most are being held without trial, according to human rights defenders. A large proportion of prisoners are held in underground secret police dungeons and the fate of many is unknown. [more]
Babak Dehghanpisheh and Suzan Haidamous, Washington Post - January 26, 2013 | Sunni militants have been flocking from Lebanon to Syria in greater numbers in recent months to join forces with Islamic extremists battling the Syrian government, according to senior Lebanese security officials. The escalating role that the Lebanese fighters are playing in the conflict is a direct result of expanding ties between Sunni religious extremists on both sides of the border and has raised concerns in Lebanon about a renewal of sectarian tensions. [more]
Jordan reportedly beefing up security on border with Syria
Times of Israel - January 28, 2013
Jordan is boosting its military presence along its northern border, sending thousands of soldiers and heavy arms to keep Syria’s civil war from spilling into the Hashemite Kingdom. The move follows similar measures by Turkey and Israel, which both recently placed anti-missile batteries near their borders with the war-torn country amid fears. Thousands of soldiers, backed up by dozens of tanks, armored vehicles and artillery have begun streaming to the Syrian border, a high ranking Jordanian official told Israeli daily Israel Hayom in a report published Monday. [more]

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