Friday, October 8, 2010

Syrian Scud Missile Base?

Today's edition of Ha'aretz has a fascinating article on "Hezbollah militants training in Syrian missile base." The article provided enough clues to allow me go on Google Earth and find the base. (I'm attaching a screen shot of the base that includes the longitude and latitude, should you wish to search for the base yourself.)

Two thoughts came to mind as I read the article. First, I don't believe the Ha'aretz reporter used Google Earth as his primary source for the article. Though he provided enough details (including the March 22, 2010 imagery date) to allow others to verify the story, there are some details in the story that can't be verified through Google Earth. The Google Earth imagery is detailed enough to see buildings, tunnel entrances and even vehicles, but the resolution isn't detailed enough to identify individuals. And the imagery wouldn't allow someone to determine if the people at the sight are Hezbollah trainees. I don't write that to cast doubt on the article's assertion that Syria is training Hezbollah to use such missiles. But I am saying that the reporter must have come to this conclusion based on more than just Google Earth photos and scattered reports from Arab newspapers.

Second, I suspect there must be a reason for the release of this information right now. Could it be related to rumors of a Syrian/Iranian/Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon? Could it be related to Ahmadinejad's impending visit to Lebanon? Could it be a warning to these countries not to provoke a conflict with Israel lest they want to have their weapons destroyed? (If Israel knew the location of these weapons in Syria, one can also assume Israel has also monitored the transfer of any such weapons into Lebanon. A thirty-five foot rocket cannot be hidden in the trunk of a car!)

To much of the world, Israel seems to overreact to any provocation on the part of its neighbors. But then, most of the world doesn't have neighbors like Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iran!

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