Israel's real target is not Syria but Hezbollah
Israel's airstrikes in Syria this week were actually aimed at Hezbollah - to prevent them from gaining additional weapons.
Reports of Israeli airstrikes in Syria have frequently obscured the issues that are really driving Israel's decision-making. The most important notion to dispel is that Israel has decided to play an active role in the Syrian conflict. Not so. Israel has no interest in getting drawn into the quagmire. Its target is strategic weapons destined for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Its actions were driven not by ambitions to shape Syria's future, but by concerns about the strategic balance between itself and the Hezbollah-Iran axis.Israel has followed the Syrian conflict with mixed feelings. On the one hand, it appreciates the potential benefits of President Bashar al-Assad's departure, which would be a blow to Iran and Hezbollah. On the other, the Syrian mess is empowering Islamists and jihadists, who may later threaten Israel directly, ending nearly 40 years of quiet on the Israeli-Syrian border.Israeli decision-makers are under no illusion that they can elicit a desirable outcome in Syria. Instead, Israel prefers to keep a low profile and focus on other pressing challenges, paramount among them Iran's drive towards nuclear weapons. Israeli actions in Syria are therefore focused on addressing direct threats to its security, particularly the transfer of strategic weapons to Hezbollah.
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