Ex-Israeli security chief: Israel attacked Syria ‘with good reason’

In apparent confirmation of raids, former national security adviser Eiland praises Jerusalem’s decision to carry out unconfirmed strike on its northerly neighbor

Former national security adviser Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland. (Flash90)
Former national security adviser Maj. Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland. (Flash90)

Two days after he told Channel 2 that he does not believe the tension between Israel and Syria is a thing of the past, former national security adviser Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland confirmed that it was Israel that carried out the strikes on several sites in Syria overnight Tuesday — “and with good reason.”

Speaking at an event in Kfar Saba Saturday, Eiland praised the Israeli government’s decision to carry out the strikes, saying it was “the right decision, despite all the risks.”

Israel has not officially acknowledged that it carried out the raids, although the US has indicated that Israel did so. Eiland’s comments marked the closest step yet toward Israeli confirmation, but since he is no longer in official government service, they still do not constitute a formal Israel acknowledgement..

He added that there were three things Israel could not agree to Lebanese-based Shi’ite terrorist organization Hezbollah attaining — long-range missiles with large missile heads, advanced anti-aircraft missiles “which would restrict the movements of the Israeli Air Force,” and chemical weapons.

The fear that Syria’s unconventional weapons could fall into the hands of groups such as Hezbollah may have been what prompted the Tuesday strikes, according to a TIME magazine report Friday.

In his television interview Thursday, Eiland had said there was a chance that the situation between Israel and Syria could heat up, describing a symbolic Syrian missile launch against Israel as a possible trigger that could seriously worsen an already tense situation.

Eiland said for years there has been a red line, an almost “quiet agreement” between Syria and Israel, by which no anti-aircraft, Scud missiles or similar arms — or chemical weapons — would be transferred from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. As far as actual intelligence, right now little is actually known about what is happening, he claimed.

If another attempt is made to move red-line weapons, Israel faces a dilemma, he said. Israel could act, but then faces the chance of escalation.

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