Israeli Jets Buzz Syrian President’s Home

Israeli warplanes buzzed the home of Syrian President Bashar Assad in a not-so-subtle message that he should help pressure the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority to pressure terrorists to release a 19-year-old soldier they’ve taken hostage.

Israeli warplanes buzzed the seaside home of Syria’s president and bombed Hamas targets in Gaza on Wednesday to pressure Palestinian militants to free a kidnapped Israeli soldier. Fighter jets also knocked out electricity and water supplies for most of the 1.3 million residents of the Gaza Strip. Three bridges also were destroyed to keep militants from moving Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, who was taken hostage Sunday by three Hamas-affiliated groups.

Israeli military officials said on condition of anonymity that warplanes flew low over the home of Syrian President Bashar Assad because he has sheltered Hamas leaders, who Israel blames for masterminding the kidnapping.

At some point, I suppose, one’s patience runs out. Still, this is akin to swatting a gnat with a sledgehammer.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. madmatt says:

    What can justify screwing with 1.3 MILLION people for the sake of one soldier who knew the risks….why do we support these people again?

  2. Bithead says:

    I dunno, James.
    That gnat has been pretty damned destructive over the years, wouldn’t you say?

  3. Steven Plunk says:

    The Palestinians dug a tunnel under the border to attack an Israeli border post. They killed two and took a hostage. In most of the world this is an act of war, which Hamas would not disagree.

    This is not about one soldier but about one country being constantly attacked by a group of savage barbarians. Somebody needs to learn a lesson about being grownups in a grownup world.

  4. Jim Henley says:

    Just to be pedantic about terminology for a minute, wouldn’t “war criminals” be more appropriate in this instance than “terrorists?” It’s not terrorism to capture an enemy soldier. But it’s certainly a war crime to threaten to execute one if your enemy doesn’t behave like you want. Per those outmoded Geneva Conventions AG Gonzales finds so quaint.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Jim: Fair point vis-a-vis soldiers. I’m just characterizing “Hamas” generally as a terrorist organization and its members thereby “terrorists.”

    To the extent this is a faction operating outside the sanction of the Hamas-led government (and who the hell knows, really) I’m not sure they can be characterized as “war criminals” since they have no duty as private actors to follow the Geneva conventions. Palestinian soldiers, yes, renegade guerillas, no.

  6. Ugh says:

    So the implication from Israel to Syria is, what? That we can kill Assad at a time and place of our choosing?

  7. legion says:

    That’s what makes this particular incident so…. interesting. It isn’t Syria that dug the tunnel & is holding that soldier, it’s Hamas. Israel’s position tho, is that Syria was at least aware of the plan or is sheltering Hamas (or even actively supporting them).

    If I was Assad, I’d give all my Hamas buddies a little lecture on “plausible deniability”. Or maybe I’d just get G. Gordon Liddy to do it…

  8. Jim Henley says:

    James, I am pretty sure that “private actor” belligerents do have affirmative duties under the Geneva Conventions. So my international law prof taught us back in collitch anyway. They routinely flout them – most notably the requirement to wear “identifying insignia” while on an operation – but they exist.

    legion, it’s unclear on what basis the Israelis are engaging in military operations in Syrian airspace. They clearly aren’t worried about possible Syrian reprisals, though, which is the best bellwether of the TRUE balance of power in the region I’ve seen in awhile. (As opposed to all this “existential threat” nonsense one hears from Israel’s partisans.)

  9. Herb says:

    To bad they didn’t “accidentally” drop a JADAM