Tensions rise in Middle East after supposed Israeli air strike

by Reichert Zalameda correspondent

Tension in the Middle East has reached a new high as a conflict between Israel and Syria has risen. On Jan. 30, missiles were launched into Syrian airspace. The target was thought to be a convoy of anti-aircraft weaponry just outside of Damascus, but according to an article on NYtimes.com, Syrian military officials denied that any convoy had been hit, instead saying that a scientific research facility had been hit.

In what the military has called “a flagrant breach of Syrian sovereignty and airspace,” according to the New York Times, Syria pointed an accusing finger at Israel, who in turn denied any involvement in the airstrike. In another New York Times article, it was reported that this statement came only after consultations on Jan. 27 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concerning movements of weaponry around Syria, and warning that any transfers to Hezbollah would be stopped by Jerusalem. When the strike happened, Syria immediately blamed Israel, stating, according to a New York Times article, “This Israeli arrogance and aggression is dangerous for Syrian sovereignty … ” According to an article on Reuters.com, the civil war in Syria is also heating up as Syrian rebels, not Israel, claim to have attacked the research site.

Since the beginning of the conflict almost two years ago, more than 60,000 lives have been taken at an average rate of 2,727 deaths every month, according to an article on CNN.com.

In an interview with The New Republic, President Obama said, “In a situation like Syria, I have to ask, can we make a difference in that situation?” Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during an interview for 60 Minutes, said that although America stood on the side of freedom and the betterment of people’s lives, “… it’s not always easy to perceive exactly what must be done in order to get to that outcome.”

photo by Noah Prins

This soldier, posted near the Damascus Gate, is reloading his gun. Old Jerusalem is one of the only places in the city where soldiers keep live ammo loaded in their guns.

An article from CNN reported that one week after the Syrian airstrike, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, while at a security conference in Munich, Germany, said, “I cannot add anything to what you’ve read in the newspapers about … what happened in Syria several days ago, but … we say that we don’t think that it should be allowable to bring advanced weapon systems into Lebanon.”

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) responded to Barak’s remarks, saying, “The statement is an overt hint that the aggression came in implementation of the Israeli threats uttered lately under the pretext of targeting ‘a weapons shipment.’”

In response to all that has been transpiring in his country, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said that Israel, along with other hostile nations, are attempting “to destabilize and weaken Syria.”

Syrians affected by the civil war and growing tension from both inside and outside the country have made their way across the border into Jordan. As CNN reported, Jordanian border guards guide Syrians to temporary shelters and later move them to the Zaatari Camp. 350,000 Syrians have made their way into Jordan since the beginning of the conflict in 2011 in hopes of escaping death. While Jordan has kept its borders open throughout this time, CNN states that it “is bursting at the seams.”

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