Attacks on Israel – and one on an arms factory in Sudan

Heat rising.

While Americans pondered the implications of a presidential strategy involving “Big Bird, Binders, and Bayonets” over the last day and a half, things have been heating up in the Levant.

Hamas launched 68 rockets at Israel in the space of 12 hours, from the evening of 23 October to the early morning of the 24th – a sustained level of fire more consonant with a tactical offensive than with the more typical Hamas campaign of occasional “pinprick” attacks.  Most of the rockets were short-range projectiles, not susceptible to intercept by Iron Dome.  But Iron Dome intercepted 7 longer-range rockets.  Two foreign agricultural workers reportedly sustained serious injuries, and a handful of others received lighter injuries.  There was damage to some buildings.

Israeli forces took out two of the Hamas teams firing rockets from Gaza, and attacked tunnels through which weapons are smuggled.

In the early dawn of 24 October, meanwhile, an arms factory in Sudan was attacked.  The arms factory is located in the Yarmouk Industrial Complex approximately 6 miles south of central Khartoum (see map).  Video of the exploding building makes it clear that it was an arms factory, with an extended series of powerful secondary explosions characteristic of ammunition dumps. (H/t: Challahu Akbar)  A Sudanese official claims that four Israeli aircraft conducted a strike on the factory.

Site of Yarmouk Industrial Complex south of Khartoum; Wikimapia map

Media reporting has suggested for more than a decade that Iran set up an arms factory in Sudan in the 1990s.  (US intelligence suspected a Sudanese factory of producing weaponizable chemical agents in the ‘90s, and the Sudanese government of complicity in supplying al Qaeda.  This led to a Tomahawk missile attack on the factory by Bill Clinton after the 1998 attacks on the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.  Iran was not implicated by US intelligence in this installation.)  Tehran is Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir’s chief foreign patron – well suited to his penchant for atrocities against his non-Muslim population – and of course is also the main supplier of arms to Hamas and Hezbollah.

Members of the Sudanese opposition have told reporters the arms factory that was hit was Iranian-sponsored.  This is very probable, and it is equally probable that the attack was, in fact, conducted by the IAF.  Sudan to Egypt to Gaza is a known arms route, and during Operation Cast Lead in 2009, when Israeli forces were going after Hamas in the wake of more than 4400 rocket attacks from Gaza up through December 2008, two arms convoys intended for Hamas were attacked on the roads through northern Sudan.  Another convoy for Hamas was reportedly attacked in Sudan in December of 2011.  (A peculiar report from early 2009 also suggested that a ship – possibly carrying arms – had been sunk in or near a Sudanese port.  While fun to analyze, the report could not be considered definitive.)

Cutting off the flow of Iranian arms to Hamas is clearly a national security interest for Israel.  The 24 October attack may or may not have been launched “because of” the rocket barrage from Hamas; it was certainly planned much earlier, but was probably executable on short notice, pending the weather conditions.  Perhaps a more reliable construction to put on the Yarmouk attack, however, is that Israel sees a need to accomplish something more definitive than interdicting convoys.  The time has come to administer a setback from which Hamas – and Iran – can’t recover quickly.

Another consideration for Israel may be that the window for unopposed action in Sudan might close in the not-too-distant future.  Getting strike-fighters into Sudan means routing them over the Red Sea and keeping an airborne tanker aloft there, with its own fighter protection.  Saudi Arabia and Jordan have the means to know the IAF aircraft are there, but they aren’t likely to interfere with Israeli attacks on Iranian arms facilities or arms bound for Hamas.

Potential path of an IAF strike package to Sudan; map

Egypt, however, also has the means to know the IAF aircraft are operating – and Egypt’s posture could well be changing.  Mohammed Morsi is not a naïve target for an Iranian charm offensive, but for his own reasons – Islamist ideology and his designs on Jerusalem – he will reach the point at which he will not be willing to stand by quietly for Israeli operations in Sudan.

There are multiple reasons why now was probably a good time to take out the Iranian arms factory south of Khartoum.  I emphasize that I do not think this action means an Israeli strike on Iran is imminent.  Rather, the factory at Yarmouk was a key node in the Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah network, and sooner or later, it had to go.  Considering how many years arms have been coming from this factory to engorge Hamas, the choice of when to do it has actually come “later” rather than “sooner.”  Assuming Israel did this, she is shaping her security environment as best she can for the challenges to come.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

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19 thoughts on “Attacks on Israel – and one on an arms factory in Sudan”

  1. Appreciate your willingness to read Haaretz and NYT. I had just been reviewing the news google results for this story, saw the sources, and, decided to try Globe and Mail first. Glad I did, because Paul Koring had already factchecked. These days, when it comes to Israel, some news sources are still clear-eyed.
    And now a few more dots connected.

    Looking forward to find out what Karmouk used to manufacture.

    And insight into the coincidence of the Qatar official visit to Gaza, the increased rocket barrage, and this.

    Regardless of who did it, hopefully this will also cut down al-Bashir’s war against the Nuba.

  2. As Hamas did not take responsibility for all of the rockets fired it’s pretty clear that there is a strong chance that it was Iranian-backed members of Sudan’s military who fired most of them, and therefore there is a de facto state of war between Sudan and Israel and any Israeli air strikes in the Sudan are proper and necessary.

    Should it turn out that Israel isn’t being attacked by Sudenese government agents, I would have to re-evaluate and declare that an Israeli military attack against Sudan would be an act of not-niceness.under international law.

    1. Sudan’s military, launching rocket attacks from Gaza? What evidence can you cite?

      And Sudan, providing Hamas weapons to attack Israel is an act of war. Under International law, Israel still has the right to defend herself from the actions of a hostile nation. So, Israel has not violated International law, regardless of whether Sudan was actively involved in the rocket attacks.

      1. GB, have have, here in my hand, indisputable evidence that there are 108 card-carrying Sudenese firing rockets into Israel from gaza. and what’s more the Secretary of the Army knows it…..

        in other news, than I guess you’re saying that Russia and North Korea, by virtue of supplying weapons that end up in Hezbollah’s arsenal are at war with Israel and that Israel is justified in attacking Russian and NorK munitions factories.

        1. There are acts of war and then, there are acts of war. While in principle they are the same, pragmatically they can be quite different. It is rare that an act of war rises to the level of a Pearl Harbor. As for Russia and North Korea’s acts of war, Israel has neither the resources to conduct a successful war against either of those nations, nor the stupidity to do so…

          Thank you for confirming that you have no evidence whatsoever of Sudanese launching rocket attacks.

  3. “Mohammed Morsi …will reach the point at which he will not be willing to stand by quietly”

    You can take that to the bank, its an iron clad certainty that, sooner or later, Morsi will be involved in attacks on Israel, though they may well be limited to support for terrorist attacks. I suspect that Morsi will only attack Israel militarily if circumstances overwhelmingly favor Egypt and, it would be in concert with other nations attacking Israel, primarily Turkey and Iran.

    The conditions for that do not yet exist, so any conflict is preparatory to war.

    1. “…sooner or later, Morsi will be involved in attacks on Israel”

      “The conditions for that do not yet exist, so any conflict is preparatory to war”.

      All the more reason to prevent a MB or Salafist takeover of the whole of Syria GB, justifiable Iran bashing notwithstanding, . It’s either Assad. partition, or the animals. There are no moderates on the horizon strong enough to support, regardless of the administration’s fairy tales.

      1. Exactly correct. Nor are there any moderate organizations, supportive of western democratic values, in the entire Middle East who are also strong enough to govern. Nor will there be for at least a generation because the mass of middle eastern Muslims do not share those values.

        1. If it is permitted I’d like to expand on my last concerning Syria.

          Of course it is possible that the animals can threaten, terrorize, pillage, kidnap, rape, and murder their way through the remaining Christian population on their road to eventual “moderation”.

          Meanwhile the “West” and its Arab/Turkish proxies simultaneously turn a blind eye and condone such outrageous behavior in order to attain the stated goals of the supposed “Arab Spring” (democracy, through intimidation, rape and murder)..

          I consider myself a realist, but this cannot be a viable option for the likes of me.

  4. Working through the noob requirements to see if I pass muster.

    Ain’t been a noob in a while…don’t want to unintentionally ruffle any feathers.

  5. Thank you.

    I was afraid it would be like with Portnoy. His place only does facebook.

    I don’t do facebook.

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