When the Pope called for peace in the Middle East he wasn’t kidding. The region is a swirling cauldron of ethnic, tribal, political and national violence. The so-called “Arab spring” (welcomed by our President) has done nothing to stabilize the region and much to destabilize it. The Syrian civil war, for example, has shuffled the deck, giving numerous bad actors a chance to gain arms, personnel and fighting experience. Specifically, “In 2005, the Austrian Steyr Mannlicher shipped 800 long-range bolt action anti-materiel rifles to Iran,” debka.com reports, “causing US concern lest they find their way to Iraq for use against coalition forces . . .
Copies of the Austrian Steyr 50 made in Iran were supplied to pro-Iran Iraqi Shiite clandestine groups then fighting the US. Today those groups are sending forces to Syria. There, the Steyr turned up first a year ago, used against Syrian rebels by snipers attached to Iranian special units.
And now Israel faces the threat . . .
IDF [Israeli Defense Force] investigators are combing through recent records to find out if [Popular Resistance Committees member Saleh Abu a-Tayyel’s death] was the first instance of a Palestinian sniper hit [using the Steyr rifle]. They are taking a second look at the murder of the 20-year old IDF Master Sgt. Gal Koby on Sept. 22. He too died of a single shot while on guard at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron. The shooter and his weapon were never found.
The new features of the current wave of Palestinian anti-Israeli terror are disturbing Israel’s military chiefs: It is orchestrated from Istanbul and Gaza by a new command made up of released Palestinian prisoners; Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas has not made the slightest effort to deploy his US-trained security forces to curb the rising violence; and finally the advent of snipers trained to kill with a single accurate bullet fired from a high-powered weapon.
To avoid this new peril, the IDF this week directed Israeli farmers to stop working their fields abutting on the Gaza Strip and draw back to a 1-kilometer radius from the border fence. The rifle is believed too heavy to plant just behind the fence. However, Israel has now been forced to accept a 1-kilometer deep no-go zone on its side of the border and keep it off-limits to civilians.
New weapons, new tactics, same old conflict.