Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western Journalism.com in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has changed his time schedule for the destruction of Israel and at the beginning of March promised a Sunni Syrian religious scholar he would lead prayers in Jerusalem fairly soon.
His words are not merely rhetoric since the Iranians are making rapid progress in preparations for a concerted effort to destroy the Jewish state via its proxies in Lebanon, Syria and the territories controlled by the PA and Hamas.
During a meeting with Muhammad Abdul-Sattar al-Sayyid, the Syrian Minister of religious affairs and Syrian religious scholars, Khamenei promised al-Sayyid he would see the day that he would be able “to lead prayers in al-Quds” (Jerusalem).
“I hope that you and we will see the day when you are conducting public prayers in Quds, God willing. We believe that that day will come. It is possible that this humble person and people like us will not be living on that day, but it will come eventually and it will not come late,” according to Khamenei
Severeal years ago, the Iranian dictator said Israel would be erased from the face of earth within 25 years.
During the meeting with the Syrian scholars Khamenei elevated the status of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad whom he praised for being “a great example of resistance and a fighting image.”
Calling al-Assad an “example” for the resistance movement – the loose coalition of terrorist movements and rogue regimes fighting Israel- is another indication Iran and its allies in Syria are shifting their focus toward Israel now that the Russian-supported Iranian axis is on the verge of victory in the seven-year-old Syrian war.
The pro-Assad coalition of Shiite militias who make up the bulk of the Syrian army today is currently eliminating the last hubs of Islamist rebels in eastern Ghouta near Damascus and in the northern province Idlib in Syria.
At the same time Iran is continuing to build the military infrastructure which will be needed in the coming confrontation with the IDF.
A recent New York Times report indicated the Islamic Republic is building missile facilities and military bases in Syria while bringing its proxies closer to the Israeli border.
In addition, Fox News reported last week Iran is building big missile silos on a military base near Damascus.
Fox News obtained images of the base from ImageSat International which showed the Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had built two hangars for missiles which can hit Israel anywhere.
A similar base was destroyed by Israel during the first direct confrontation between the IAF and the IRGC on February 10, 2018.
This week Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, said Iran has tripled its missile production despite international efforts to curb the program.
Hajizadeh scoffed at Israel and other Western powers such as France for their “hypocrisy” in trying to stop further expansion of the Iranian missile program.
France is leading the effort to reduce the threat from Iranian missiles, however, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian failed to book progress while visiting Iran at the beginning of this week.
Another indication both Israel and Iran are preparing for war is detectable in Lebanon.
Last week, Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), told reporters the Lebanese army is ready for a new conflict with Israel if the IDF encroaches further on the border of Lebanon.
Aoun’s threat was related to mounting tensions between Lebanon and Israel over additional security measures the IDF is currently undertaking near the Lebanese border and a dispute over a gas field which straddles the maritime border between the two countries.
A former Syrian general who headed the chemical weapons program of Assad’s army this week disclosed Iran and Syria have supplied chemical weapons to Hezbollah.
Suhair al-Saqit told the Hebreeuw paper Maariv the chemical warheads in Hezbollah’s possession are produced in Syria.
He also said Assad had transferred a large part of his chemical weapons stockpile to Hezbollah ahead of international inspections which took place after Assad gassed thousands of Syrian civilians during the first period of the Syrian civil war.
Fox News furthermore, reported a new UN investigation revealed North Korea has delivered new chemical weapons to Syria and that satellite images showed North Korean engineers are working on chemical weapons facilities in Syria.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham who visited Israel last week said he had become increasingly worried about the Iranian threat to Israel after he visited the borders between Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
“It’s far worse than I thought it would be,” Graham said before reporting he had seen Hezbollah and Syrian army flags very close to the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
“Southern Lebanon is a nightmare, it makes Gaza looking stable” Graham said before adding “Israel is in a no-win situation.”
He was referring to the approx. 130,000 missiles pointing at Israel from Lebanon.
Graham could have added that the Lebanese army has been turned into an ally of Hezbollah with U.S. support as columnist Caroline Glick reported this week.
Glick also wrote the presence of UNIFIL in southern Lebanon has been rendered useless against Hezbollah’s growing threat against Israel because the LAF is blocking UNIFIL from carrying out its mandate as a peace keeping force.
Israel on the other hand, is increasingly carrying out reconnaissance missions in Lebanon.
The Lebanese army almost daily reports violations of Lebanese airspace by IAF warplanes and drones while the Israeli navy briefly entered Lebanese territorial waters this week.
“There is a feeling of calm before the storm here in Israel,” blogger Vic Rosenthal wrote this week adding that the “coming war” will probably be the “toughest in Israel’s history.”
Iran and its proxies are expected to lob more than 1,000 missiles a day at Israel from at least three fronts in this ‘coming war’ as many observers, politicians and IDF officers in Israel call it.
These three fronts are Lebanon, Gaza and Syria and it is expected Israel’s various anti-missile shields will be unable to cope with this amount of missiles.
This is why some observers now think the time has come to take preemptive action against the Iranian threat on the lines of what happened in 1967 at the outset of the Six-Day-War when the IAF destroyed almost all Egyptian and Syrian warplanes before the war actually began.
“Israel is exceptionally vulnerable to attack by precision weapons, as on the one hand it is an advanced Western country dependent on sophisticated technologies, and on the other it is small, with very concentrated infrastructures and very little redundancy,” two IAF veterans wrote in a study last year.
They could have added that the bulk of Israel’s population is living in areas in the center of country and the Iranians have already warned they would flatten Tel Aviv and its suburbs in the Gush Dan area.
All the above are the reasons Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu spoke in apocalyptic terms regarding the increasing Iranian threat to Israel when he held a speech at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in the U.S.
“We must stop Iran. We will stop Iran,” Netanyahu vowed.