New Moon 1/12/35/120

Dear Friends,

Just prior to the Fourth Sabbath of the Eleventh Month some ten days ago Israel struck at Syria’s Biochemical and offensive weapons facility in NW Syria near the Lebanon border.

The Syrian military says Israeli jets have carried out an air strike on its territory, but denied reports that lorries carrying weapons bound for Lebanon were hit. It said in a statement that the target was a military research centre northwest of the capital Damascus. Two people were killed and five injured in the attack, it said.

Lebanese security sources, Western diplomats and Syrian rebels say an arms convoy was hit near Lebanon's border.

The attack came as Israel voiced fears that Syrian missiles and chemical weapons could fall into the hands of militants such as Lebanon's Hezbollah.

BBC Middle East correspondent Wyre Davies says none of the reports can be verified, although some well-placed diplomats and military sources say they would not be surprised if Israel had acted, given the recent instability in Syria.

Israel and the US declined to comment on the incident.

The Lebanese military and internal security forces have not officially confirmed the reports, but say there has been increased activity by Israeli warplanes over Lebanon in the past week.

Hezbollah involvement
The army statement, quoted in Syria's official media, said: "Israeli fighter jets violated our airspace at dawn today and carried out a direct strike on a scientific research centre in charge of raising our level of resistance and self-defence."

The centre, in Jamraya, northwest of the capital Damascus, was damaged in the attack, along with an adjacent building and a car park, the statement said. It said that "armed terrorist gangs", a term the government uses to describe rebel groups, had tried and failed repeatedly to capture the same facility in recent months. The statement specifically denied reports that an arms convoy had been hit.

The Jerusalem Post said the description of the facility fitted that of Syria's Scientific Studies and Research Centre, believed to be the state organisation responsible for developing biological and chemical weapons.

Hours earlier, unnamed Lebanese security sources reported that Israeli warplanes had struck lorries carrying missiles towards the Lebanese border.

The Associated Press quoted a US official as saying the lorries were carrying Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles.

Correspondents say Israel fears that Lebanese Shi’a militant group Hezbollah could obtain anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, thus strengthening its ability to respond to Israeli air strikes. These SA-17s are high grade modern weapons and Israel will not sit quietly by and allow them deployed in Lebanon by Hezbollah. For the same reason last year Israel struck at the arms depot in Sudan and destroyed a convoy under preparation for delivery to Gaza through Egypt.

An attack on the Syrian side could cause a major diplomatic incident, as Iran has said it will treat any Israeli attack on Syria as an attack on itself.  We will see what develops.

The attack came days after Israel moved its Iron Dome defence system to the north of the country.

Israel has also joined the US in expressing concern that Syria's presumed chemical weapons stockpile could be taken over by militant groups, although there is no evidence that the convoy was carrying such weapons. However such a possibility has to be taken very seriously.

Analysts say Israel believes Syria received a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli air strike in 2007 that destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor.

The US government said in 2008 that the reactor was "not intended for peaceful purposes.”        

A Western diplomat and Lebanese security officials told international news agencies that the attack on Syria actually hit an arms convoy, probably carrying advanced surface-to-air missiles to Hezbollah.
Adding to the confusion, a local rebel group said it was responsible for the attack, which involved mortar fire on the weapons compound. So are we to believe there were two attacks? 

Iran's deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the attack clearly demonstrated that foreign-sponsored militants and Israel "pursue the same goals with regard to Syria", and warned Israel not to have faith in its anti-missile defence system. That could be a reference to possible retaliation by Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, and has missiles stationed in Lebanon, just across the border with Israel. That is the reason why Israel will not allow the SA-17s in Lebanon.

Syria's foreign ministry said Israel "and the states that protect it" were responsible for the air strike, and said he affirmed "Syria's right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty," state news agency SANA reported. Syria called on "all the competent UN bodies to take the necessary steps given this grave Israeli violation, and to guarantee that it will not happen again."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern" and called on all parties to "prevent tensions or their escalation in the region." He called on all sides to "strictly abide by international law, in particular in respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region," deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said.

As we would expect Damascus's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, stressed Syria's right to respond to "the Zionist aggression." Meanwhile, Syria has called in the commander of the United Nations force which observes a decades-old truce between Syria and Israel. The Syrian foreign ministry says it lodged an official protest over Israel's violation of the agreement, which dates back to 1974.

Russia said if the strike was confirmed it would be "a very serious breach of the UN charter". Israel has made no comment to date but it could not be blamed for treating the Russian and Syrian comments with cynicism.

This all happened in the weeks before the New Moon of Adar.  In this month we see the feast of Purim was held and the understanding of this event gives a sound understanding of these events in the Last Days. The background is found in the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 63).  The area of ancient Persia is now modern Iran and its empire covered Syria and Iraq and the empire of the Medes as well as the Persians. Iran has called upon the Arab world for the genocide and eradication of Israel.  Egypt has also done the same under the Muslim Brotherhood and a professor in Egypt made a public statement on Iranian televisions recently that they hoped for the eradication or annihilation of Israel in 2013. This clear war crime, which is in the latter sequence of the UN definitions of genocide, was not even mentioned by these UN hypocrites.

Now we do not know whether the operations of Purim will spread over the year 2013 or if Israel will conduct the pre-emptive strike in the actual days of Purim in Adar.  We do not know and cannot guess.  However, what we do know is that Israel will not allow Iran to simply act to eradicate it as a nation and a people and let the Arabs act without a pre-emptive strike. We can be fairly sure that this conflict is coming to a head and very soon. We can also be sure that Iran is escalating its nuclear reactors and the trigger mechanisms are being tested elsewhere, probably in North Korea.

In addition, Iran has told the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA based in Vienna that it plans to add 3000 faster centrifuges to its main uranium enrichment facility. This will significantly shorten the time needed to build a nuclear weapon should they decide to do so and that seems to be the way they are headed. The IAEA said that the Iranian authorities informed them that Tehran intended to add IR-2m centrifuges to the enrichment hall in the Natanz complex in Iran. These centrifuges spin three to five times faster that the IR-1 model.  World powers are taking this seriously and not as an idle boast which Iran is prone to do.

Diplomats of the six nations tasked are not speaking with Iran fast enough and if Iran is building the bomb with these they will do it in less than four months. The current capacity requires 12 months. Given the technology Iran could convert the 25 kg of materials needed for the bomb in four months. Given they are already down the track they will be able to complete a number of weapons by mid-year. This prospect makes any diplomatic solution very dim indeed. Iran will reject any attempts to stop the installation of the new centrifuges.

US and Israel will not allow this to drag on and will conduct a pre-emptive strike well before time to slow or prevent the program. Given that Iran has a presidential election in June, unless talks progress successfully in the next few weeks there will be no serious negotiation resume until the end of the year in October/ November. It is unlikely that will be tolerated by the US and Israel.

Hence we may see an all out attack by Purim or even before June. The crisis is unlikely to be allowed to go past 2013.

The commander US Pacific Command (PACOM) has announced also that the US is to station a powerful radar and space telescope in Australia to enable the Indian Ocean security to be stepped up and that is no doubt prompted by the problems in the Gulf and Middle East and in Asian countries and there will be more to follow over these attacks. These are to strengthen the space program also.

There is mounting preparation for the war we would expect in the last days from a reading of Esther.

Pray that we are protected from the conflict and it is short and that Russia does not escalate it further to the North.  However, Scripture cannot be broken and it appears we are to go into the wars following on from this attack of Purim.

Wade Cox
Coordinator General