A red line’s a red line. That was Israel’s message Wednesday, when it struck a major Syrian arms facility from the air.
Jerusalem officials declined to comment for the record, but Syrian and Lebanese media reported that the Israeli Defense Force struck a major missile and military research facility at Masyaf, Syria, that’s controlled by President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian co-conspirators.
The daring attack carried all the hallmarks of Israel’s unique brand of non-proliferation enforcement. In an age of major proliferation crises, that method should be studied carefully and emulated when possible.
Wednesday night’s strike was “not routine,” tweeted Amos Yadlin, the director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. “It targeted a Syrian military-scientific center for the development and manufacture of precision missiles” that also “produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians.”
Yadlin, who once commanded the IDF intelligence unit, knows a thing or two about combatting proliferation: He was one of the pilots who took part in Israel’s 1981 “Operation Opera” to destroy Iraq’s Osirak nuclear plant.
Wednesday’s hit on the Syrian factory was reminiscent of another IDF feat, which occurred 10 years before, to the day: “Operation Orchard,” the mission that leveled a nascent Syrian nuclear facility, built with the help of Iran and North Korea.
Israel has told everyone (including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last week) that it wouldn’t allow into Syria and Lebanon certain arms, including precision-guided missiles, that can change the face of future wars against it. Wednesday’s operation made clear it means it.