(by Julie Stahl, CNSNews.com) Jerusalem – Israeli fighter planes accused of violating Syrian air space last week were attacking Iranian weapons shipments destined for the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah, American media reports said.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied the alleged overflight incident that inflamed Syria last week, but most Israelis believe something must have happened.
Syria said last week that it had fired on the Israeli planes. On Tuesday, Syria lodged a complaint with the United Nations charging Israeli with a “flagrant violation” of Syrian airspace “in clear and brazen defiance of international law.”
American officials were quoted as saying that Israel struck at least one target inside Syria last week. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Israel may have been targeting a cache of weapons that Iran was sending to Hizballah by way of Syria.
CNN earlier quoted U.S. government and military sources as saying that Israel had targeted Iranian weapons headed for Hizballah. According to CNN, the bombing left “a big hole in the desert.”
(Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari said the Israeli planes dropped “some munitions without managing to cause any human casualties or material damage.”)
Israeli and U.S. officials have charged that Iran and Syria are sending weapons to Hizballah in violation of the United Nations resolution that ended last summer’s war between Israel and Hizballah.
Although Syria is not believed to have a nuclear weapons program, a Bush administration official was quoted in the New York Times report as saying that Israel had photographed possible nuclear facilities during a recent reconnaissance flight over Syria.
Israeli officials think that North Korea might be selling nuclear material to both Iran and Syria, the administration official said.
Professor Moshe Maoz of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem told Cybercast News Service in an earlier interview that it is unlikely but not impossible that Syria would try to obtain a nuclear bomb.
“The Syrians had some projects, ideas or notions years ago [about obtaining an atomic bomb],” Maoz said. “[But it’s a] very costly business, and as far as I know they don’t have any nuclear projects so far.”
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1. What is reported to be the reason that Israeli fighter planes violated Syrian air space last week?
2. What has been the official Israeli government response to Syrian allegations?
3. What complaint did Syria make to the U.N. against Israel?
4. What charges have Israeli and U.S. officials made against Iran and Syria?
5. Does Syria have a nuclear weapons program?
6. What is Hizballah (also spelled Hezbollah)?
(For information on Hezbollah, go to the Terrorism Knowledge Base website at terrorisminfo.mipt.org/Foreign-Terrorist-Organizations-Designations.asp or
the Council on Foreign Relations website at cfr.org/publication/9155.)
7. One of Hizballah’s stated goals is the destruction of the state of Israel. Do you think Israel has the right to send military aircraft into Syria in an attempt to destroy weapons that Iran was sending to Hizballah by way of Syria? Explain your answer.
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