U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said yesterday that Hezbollah now has "far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world", an apparent reference to Israeli reports that Damascus had supplied it with the latest version of Scud missiles, capable of carrying a 700-kilo payload more than 400 miles with a far greater accuracy than those fired by Saddam Hussein in 1991. According to a report by James Hider in The Times (London), "The new Scuds could potentially reach any target in Israel, and officials fear their accuracy could allow them to target military installations with far greater effect than the Katyushas fired more or less blindly in the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah."
To which, my question is: Why do the Israelis passively watch this arming of Hezbollah? Why do they wait for these to pour down destruction and death on their cities? Why not put down a red line and threaten to take them out before they can become operational? What is wrong with Westerners? (April 28, 2010)
May 20, 2010 update: A report by Amos Harel in Ha'aretz makes me ask again, why are the Israelis permitting the Scuds to be deployed? The title sums up the piece: "IDF preparing for mass evacuations in case of Hezbollah missile strike; Army fears new Lebanon confrontation would result in heavier warheads being launched at Tel Aviv."
May 28, 2010 update: Richard Beeston, foreign editor of the Times (London), has offered one explanation for why the Israelis sit by as the Scuds enter Lebanon:
Israel reportedly planned recently to bomb one of the arms convoys as it crossed the border into Lebanon, but the operation was called off at the last minute. Western intelligence sources say that the Israelis have yielded — for now — to American diplomatic efforts to persuade Syria to stop the arms transfers.
Beeston continues: "However, the apparent lack of success is increasing the chances that Israel may send a "calibrated signal" to Hezbollah and Syria by launching an airstrike against an arms depot or weapons convoy."
May 31, 2010 update: In preventing the "Free Gaza" flotilla from possibly bringing armaments to Hamas, the Israelis make the sensible point that they cannot allow weapons to go to their enemies. But that rule does look a bit odd in light of the Scuds. Hezbollah can acquire long-range rockets with impunity but Hamas cannot acquire lesser matériel? The logic confuses me.