DEBKAfile Special Report July 19, 2012, 9:54 AM
The tactics Iran, Syria and Hizballah have set out for escalating their terrorist attacks on Israel differentiate between “local” and high-value “strategic” targets. They have now decided to up the assaults on the latter to keep pace with the worsening war situation in Syria and the approach of an attack on Iran’s nuclear program. This is reported by debkafile’s intelligence and counter-terror sources.
Iranian terror planners classify the blowing up of the Bulgarian bus Wednesday, July 18 as “local” notwithstanding its “success” in killing at least seven Israelis and wounding more than thirty.
Destroying an Israeli passenger plane in Limassol, Cyprus, or assassinating an Israeli ambassador, in which they have failed so far, would have been “strategic” as would key Israeli security figures, politicians, business executives and Israel’s Mediterranean oil and gas fields.
Just by coincidence, two major episodes occurred on the same day only hours apart – a large hole was struck in Bashar Assad’s inner circle with the deaths in Damascus of half the management of his killing machine against the Syrian opposition and, soon after, the Israeli tour bus was blown up by means still under investigation.
This chance synchronicity heralds a new period of horrific Middle East violence which will reach not only Israel, but the United States and the West as well.
This realization was uppermost in the conversation between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday morning, July 19. Neither doubted that Tehran and Damascus were hatching retribution for the assassination of top Syrian ministers.
They had information missing from media reports on the two events, including the news that straight after the deadly attack on Assad’s henchmen, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called an Iranian leadership conference which lasted most of Wednesday and was punctuated with frequent phone calls by Iranian officials to the Syrian President.
The content of those phone calls reaching reached Obama and Netanyahu showed clearly which way the wind was blowing in Damascus and Tehran: Neither intended pulling their punches.
The US and Israeli leaders agreed to work together in the investigation of the bus explosion in Bulgaria.
Our sources stress that this is just diplomaticspeak for holding off on action. Despite Netanyahu’s pledge of a “strong response” to the attack, it was decided that a proactive response to the attack by striking an Iranian or Hizballah target would exacerbate a situation which US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta described as “spinning out of control.”
Israelis have learned in the three years of Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister that expressions like “strong,” “forceful,” “determined” “we cannot tolerate” etc. mean just the opposite. Israel’s enemies also understand him to mean that he will sit tight and do nothing.
However, an escalation of attacks on Israeli “strategic targets” predicted by intelligence experts in the coming days may make this do-nothing policy untenable. After all, talking to Obama won’t deflect Iran, Syria and Hizballah from their resolve to vent their urge for revenge on Israel.
Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah has often managed to stay a step or two ahead of US and Israeli thinking – especially in his propaganda campaigns – ever since he surprised Israel by launching the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006.
A few hours after the attacks in Bulgaria and Damascus, Nasrallah had found his tongue and was crowing:
“We know what your [Israel’s] first strike will be and we promise you a big surprise.”
His words were a warning to Israel and a message to Washington that anyone trying to reach the bunker in which he has been hiding since 2006 was in for a big surprise.
Israel was painfully reminded of the Iranian C-802 shore-to-ship missile fired from the Lebanese coast which surprised and crippled the unready INS Hanit missile ship exactly six years ago.