Israel has finally done something the United States was afraid to do -- get involved in Syria. Despite the deaths of 60,000 people, a cache of chemical weapons, and the presence of militant terrorist groups in Syria, the United States has chosen not to get involved. If radical Islamists take over Syria it will not threaten America's national security. Israel does not have this luxury. All it takes is one Syrian chemical weapons attack on Tel Aviv to bring Israel to its knees.
As Syria continues its downward spiral, the question of Syria's chemical weapons security grows. Syria boasts one of the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical weapons, and with Assad losing his grip on the country, many fear these weapons will find their way to Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups.
The United States, although fearful of chemical weapons escaping Syria, are hesitant to enter the fray. American policy makers don’t want to escalate tensions with Russia and Iran over Syria, nor do they want to commit more troops to another Middle Eastern nation. American indifference to Syria has become common knowledge, emboldening Iran but also signaling to Israel that they may need to act alone. And act they did.
Just yesterday Israel, fearing that these weapons might fall into the hands of Hezbollah operating in Lebanon, attacked a Syrian weapons convoy just outside Damascus. According to multiple sources, the convoy was carrying weapons into Lebanon. The Syrian government denied that a weapons convoy was targeted, claiming instead it was a military research installation.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Syrian president Assad claimed the Israelis blew up a hospital of newborns. A man largely responsible for the deaths of 60,000 of his own people is likely to say anything to get the media target off his back.
The Syrian weapons threat is a real one to Israeli policy makers. Should any Syrian weapons reach the Lebanon border, Hezbollah would acquire firepower that would give them a tremendous advantage in future wars with Israel. Aside from chemical weapons, Russian SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles could neutralize Israeli air strikes on Hezbollah targets.
The Obama administration has been largely silent about the attack. To their credit, they have not condemned Israel for the attacks, but have not applauded it either. Imagine a Mexican drug-cartel acquiring chemical weapons, and then attempting to give them to Al Qaeda operatives along our southern border. Would American air strikes fly through the desert? You bet.
Response of Israel’s Enemies
Syrian president Assad has vowed a surprise attack against the Israelis (not much of a surprise if you’re vowing to do it ahead of time). Due to Assad’s tenuous grip on power, and Syria’s ability to attack Israel without help, this threat is largely hollow. The Syrians haven't won a war against Israel -- ever. Even when Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon joined in on the fun they still lost. What should be of more concern is the response from Iran.
The Iranian response to the attack was swift and threatening. According to the Jerusalem Post, In Iran, the country’s deputy foreign minister said on Press TV that the “strike on Syria will have serious consequences for Tel Aviv,” but did not elaborate. This open threat may have prompted Israeli leaders to move their Iron Dome anti-missile system closer to the Syrian border – just in case.
Just weeks earlier the Ayatollah of Iran warned that an attack on Syria was an attack on Iran. This is likely saber rattling, but a nation with nuclear technology, a large military, and a history of hatred toward Israel should not be dismissed. Will the United States defend Israel against any Iranian incursions? Perhaps this will be one of Obama’s early 2nd term tests.
Russia was also quick to condemn Israel for attacking Syria, one of its principal Middle Eastern allies. For claiming friendship with Israel, the Russians are quick to condemn them.
According to the BBC, the Russian Foreign Ministry said: "If this information is confirmed, then we are dealing with unprovoked attacks on targets on the territory of a sovereign country, which blatantly violates the UN Charter and is unacceptable, no matter the motives to justify it."
Really? Rather difficult to take Russian protests seriously as they haven’t always been a bastion of international peace and cooperation.
Israeli Strikes and Bible Prophecy
Is this latest strike prophetically significant? Time will tell. I hesitate to label every Middle Eastern incident as “prophetically significant.” We are likely to see a number of conflicts between Israel and its enemies before Bible prophecy is fulfilled. Rather than see this as prophetic, this latest event illustrates the overall atmosphere that has taken hold in the Middle East. Should God wish for this invasion to occur today, it wouldn’t take much to set it off.
Attacks, counterattacks, and even wars could take place before the Ezekiel invasion takes place. Jesus Himself explains in Matthew 24: 6 that “wars and rumors of war” will indicate that we are nearing the end-times. Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 explained Israel would one day face a massive invasion from the north (most likely through the Syrian border). The invasion is to be led by a man titled Gog, leader of what Bible scholars and historians believe to be the nation of Russia. Gog will also be joined by the Persians (Iranians), among other Middle Eastern nations.
It is significant that two of the nations mentioned in Ezekiel have condemned Israel – Russia and Iran. Their partnership began in the late 1970’s and continues to grow to this day. Russia uses Iran's nuclear program as a means to "stick it" to the West. If given a choice between supporting Israel or Iran, Russia will choose Iran. Does this mean that Putin and Ahmadenijad are suiting up for an invasion? No, but we could be heading down that road.
Russian opposition and Iranian hatred toward Israel are just part of the grander geopolitical landscape of the Middle East today. Turkey’s continued cooling toward Israel and the West, combined with its new friendship with Russia is another indicator of the season. A number of nations mentioned in Ezekiel lived in what is today known as Turkey. If geographic fulfillment is any indicator, Turkey may be involved in this future invasion.
The past decade has seen a mysterious friendship form between Turkey (a NATO member) and Russia. As Turkey pulls away from the West it finds itself closer to Russia. These two nations have fought for almost 300 years but now find themselves cooperating in military exercises and energy treaties. Turkey is Russia’s number one tourist destination while Russia is Turkey’s number one trade partner. Turkey is currently receiving Russian nuclear technology for their newfound nuclear energy program.
Additionally, the current administration of Israel’s longtime protector, the United States, has shown a hesitancy not seen in past presidencies. The tension between Obama and Netanyahu is undeniable. This administration has asked the Israelis to ignore the Iranian nuclear program, and has repeatedly undermined its argument for settlements in the Palestinian territories. We know from Ezekiel 38 that in future years, when Israel is invaded by a coalition of enemies, neither the United States nor Europe will lift a finger to defend her.