London – Threatened by a Syrian-regime weapons convoy destined for the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Israel’s air force destroyed on Wednesday a cache of military arms believed to be Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.
Though Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the obliteration of the missiles, the New York Times reported that Israel’s government issued advance notice to the Obama administration of its preemptive strike.
The British Times quoted an Israeli intelligence officer declaring, “Weapons systems that make our air force vulnerable will not be allowed to fall into the hands of terrorist groups.”
The primary terror group along Israel’s northern border contributing to the demise of Middle East peace is the anti-U.S. Lebanese-based Hezbollah entity.
According to Mideast security expert estimates, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 60,000 rockets. As my FDD colleague Jonathan Schanzer highlights,” Until now, with troubling news coming out of Iran, Syria, Gaza, and elsewhere, the Lebanon front has been largely ignored. But beware. A new conflict with Israel and Lebanon may be looming. And this conflict could erupt in a flash.”
The anti-Israel Shiite terror organization Hezbollah serves as Iran’s chief ally in Lebanon. Prior to al-Qaeda’s mass murder of Americans on 9/11, Hezbollah had killed the most Americans in acts of terror, including hundreds of U.S. military personnel in the early 1980s. Its murder spree would extend to Iraq where, in 2007, Hezbollah operative Ali Mussa Daqduq was implicated in the murders of five U.S. Armed Forces soldiers.
The question mark over the second Obama administration is whether his new national defense team will twist the arms of reluctant European leaders to outlaw Hezbollah. The U.S. designated Hezbollah as a terrorist entity in the 1990s.
A joint Iran-Hezbollah operation resulted in the July 2012 suicide bombing of an Israeli tour bus in Burgas, Bulgaria. Five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver died in the terrorist act. The Bulgarian investigators are slated to release the results of their inquiry next week. The EU, however, appears to be running scared of Hezbollah and showing no appetite to protect its citizens against terrorism.
The EU’s counter-terrorism official in Brussels, Gilles de Kerchove, questioned whether it is the correct legal decision to include Hezbollah in the EU terror list. He told EU Observer “you need to ask yourself: ‘Is this the right thing to do?’”
In response to de Kerchove’s soggy appeasement of Hezbollah, Philipp Missfelder, a deputy in the Bundestag and foreign policy spokesman for German chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party, said, “I can understand this statement in no way. Hezbollah must feel the pressure.”
Missfelder continued, “Statements like this are counterproductive. Terrorism is an integral part of Hezbollah’s overall strategy that undermines the political stability of Lebanon and threatens the existence of the Jewish state of Israel.”
“There has never been doubt about that. By no means can the EU tolerate that this group operates from European soil. Therefore it is absolutely urgent to put this group on the EU terror list,” he said.
It is long-overdue that the EU replicates the U.S. government’s terror listing of Hezbollah. The elimination of Hezbollah’s fundraising and organizational activities within the EU would advance U.S. interests as well as security for the Middle East region.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a research fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.