Iranians Reported Fighting in Lebanon

The Jerusalem Post reports on the Hezbollah attack on an Israeli ship, in which four sailors were killed. The most significant point is that the attack was carried out using a missile made in Iran, not a drone as first reported. And the IDF says the missile was fired by Iranians:

An IDF investigation into the attack showed that Hizbullah had fired an Iranian-made missile at the vessel from the shores of Lebanon, said Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan.

A senior IDF intelligence official says that Iran has approximately 100 soldiers in Lebanon and that they helped Hizbullah hit an Israel Navy ship with an anti-ship missile.

Hezbollah also apparently sank an Egyptian merchant ship.

SCOTT adds: Robert Satloff’s analysis in the new issue of the Weekly Standard anticipates the direct Iranian involvement in the conflict:

Virtually overnight, an audacious Hamas raid has metastasized into a crisis that holds the greatest potential for regional conflagration in years. On a strategic level, the rogues’ goal is almost surely to fuse the disparate crises into one–merging either the Hamas or Hezbollah front with Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West, perhaps by the transfer of the captive soldiers to Iranian control, by direct involvement of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the rocket fire against Israel, or by some other means.

If that happens, then Hamas and its fellow quartet members may achieve what Yasser Arafat was not able to accomplish with two intifadas–to regionalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and thereby radically alter the strategic balance. And if Iran is able to exploit this crisis to show that its nuclear program earns it and its allies special treatment on the terrorism front, Tehran will have proven precisely how beneficial the decision to invest in a nuclear program really was. As the Iranian newspaper Kayhan, close to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, editorialized last Thursday, “Nuclear Iran is eradicating the nuclear prestige of Israel.” That’s the sort of rising star to which Syria would like to be hitched.

In Gaza and Lebanon, a battle between Israel and two of its enemies has now been joined. Its spread to two other enemies–Iran and Syria–is a stark and urgent possibility. Let us not mistake this conflict for a local skirmish, a pesky diversion from more serious business, like stopping Iran’s nuclear program or building a free, stable Iraq. On the contrary, it is all of a piece.

Defeat for Israel–either on the battlefield or via coerced compromises to achieve flawed cease-fires–is a defeat for U.S. interests; it will inspire radicals of every stripe, release Iran and Syria to spread more mayhem inside Iraq, and make more likely our own eventual confrontation with this emboldened alliance of extremists. Victory–in the form of Hezbollah’s disarmament, the expulsion of the Iranian military presence from Lebanon, the eviction of Meshal and friends from Damascus, and the demise of the Hamas government in Gaza–is, by the same token, also a victory for U.S. (and Western) interests.

On a related note, YNET News reports that Israel has given Syria a 72-hour ultimatum.

UPDATE: Haaretz reports the denial by an unidentified IDF officer of the purported ultimatum to Syria.

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