If anyone doubts the close relationship between the United States and Israel — or the continuing value of that relationship to both countries — they might consider a New York Times report this week about Syria’s deadly chemical warfare arsenal.
According to the report, Israel notified the Pentagon in November that Syria was preparing a chemical believed to be deadly sarin gas and loading it into dozens of 500-pound bombs destined for airplanes. “Within hours President Obama was notified, and the alarm grew over the weekend, as the munitions were loaded onto vehicles near Syrian air bases,” the Times reports. “In briefings, administration officials were told that if Syria’s increasingly desperate president, Bashar al-Assad, ordered the weapons to be used [against Syrian rebels], they could be airborne in less than two hours — too fast for the United States to act, in all likelihood.”
The startling news helped forge an unprecedented alliance among the United States, Arab states, Russia, and China to deal with Syria’s deadly civil war. In response, Syria halted its bomb preparation, but, sources said, the bombs could be put to use at any time.
According to Israeli media, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Jordan in recent weeks to discuss how to deal with Syrian weapons if they were transferred to Hizbullah in Lebanon.
Israel’s supporters have long insisted that Israel, as America’s closest ally in the Middle East, remains a strategic asset. Its actions in gathering, analyzing, and sharing vital intelligence on a volatile neighbor proves that point once again.