A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Israel's Stepped-Up Air Defense Alerts: MH 370. Gaza, and Perhaps Iran as Well?

Blogging may be light for a couple of more days due to Spring issue deadlines at the end of the month, but there's been some attention paid in Israel to reports the country has stepped up it's air defenses due to the uncertainties about the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian airliner. (I may be the only person who hasn't talked about that yet, but until now, other than the two Iranians on fake passports, there was no resonance in the Middle East.)

Since there's no evidence of what actually happened but some evidence pointing to some nefarious purpose, it's hardly news that Israel (and other countries in the region I would presume, not least India and China) might be stepping up the vigilance of their air defenses. Claims (among the many other theories) that the aircraft might have landed somewhere in non-government controlled regions of Afghanistan or northwestern Pakistan (and be under Afghan or Pakistani Taliban control) may be wildly improbable (surely US, Indian, and Pakistani intelligence monitoring has that area pretty much saturated). Even if there's a remote chance, though, no one wants another 9/11. Well, no neighboring state does.

But I would also note that even before the reports of stepped-up Israeli measures due to MH370, Israel had already announced a limited callup of air defense reserves last week after a barrage of rockets from Gaza and Israel's retaliation. That, and the fact that belligerent rhetoric towards Iran has seen a resurgence lately, all may contribute to an enhanced alert condition for Israel's air defenses.

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