Sunday, October 05, 2003

Ach, Mein Gott! Israel Attacks Syria

What possible rationale could there for this course of action? (via Matthew Yglesias)

JERUSALEM -- Israeli warplanes bombed Syria on Sunday, striking what the military called an Islamic Jihad training base in retaliation for a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant. It was the first Israeli attack deep inside Syrian territory in three decades.

The attack -- one day after an Islamic Jihad bomber killed 19 people -- threatened to widen three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence into neighboring countries and marked a dramatic new strategy in Israel's efforts to stop terror attacks.

Israel, which accuses Syria of harboring and funding Islamic Jihad, said it would strike at terrorists anywhere in the region. A statement from the military also accused Iran of funding and directing Islamic Jihad, saying Israel "will act with determination against all who harm its citizens."

"Any country who harbors terrorism, who trains (terrorists), supports and encourages them will be responsible to answer for their actions," government spokesman Avi Pazner said.

Syria's Foreign Ministry issued a terse statement saying it plans to lodge an "urgent complaint" against Israel with the United Nations. The U.N. spokesman's office confirmed that the Security Council called an emergency meeting Sunday in response to Syria's request.

But a direct military response by Syria appeared unlikely. One parliament member, George Jabbour, said military action has not benefitted Syria in the past.

I don't understand this at all, and I don't see what is to be gained by it. The Syrian regime is one of the nastier ones in the middle east, but it is hardly a threat to Israel from the military standpoint. What is going on in Ariel Sharon's head?