Putin and Netanyahu at the Kremlin, June 2016.
Sputnik Photo Agency / Reuters

Earlier this month, when Israeli missiles struck a military site near Damascus that reportedly housed Iranian forces, the intended message was clear: Israel will not tolerate the permanent presence of Iranian militias and military infrastructure in Syria. This represents a clear redline for Iran’s leadership, one that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made explicit in a video message released a few hours later: “We will not allow [Iran] to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state.”

Israel’s reasons for sending a message to Iran are straightforward: it does not want Syria to become another base for the Iranian regime and its allies. Pro-Iranian forces already threaten Israel from Lebanon, where Israeli officials believe that Hezbollah has more than 100,000 missiles. Tehran also has established close relations with the militant Palestinian movement Islamic Jihad and Hamas’ military wing. And

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  • MEIR JAVEDANFAR teaches Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. He is also a senior researcher at the Ezri Ceenter for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies. 
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