Bahrain backs Israel’s right to strike in Syria

Bahrain’s support for the Israeli counter-strike in Syria is yet another sign of the split in the Arab world between pro- and anti-Iranian countries.

By  Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Support for Israel came from an unexpected place Thursday as the foreign minister of Bahrain defended Israel’s missile attack on Iranian targets in Syria the previous night.

“As long as Iran continues the current status quo of its forces and rockets operating in the region, then any country — including Israel — has the right to defend itself by eliminating the source of danger,” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote in a Twitter post in Arabic.

The IDF said it bombed dozens of Iranian military sites in Syria overnight in reaction to a barrage of missiles that were aimed at northern Israel earlier Wednesday. The rockets were fired by Iran’s Quds Force, making it the first time Iranian forces fired directly at Israel rather than through Hamas and Hezbollah, its terror proxies.

A military spokesman said only four of the 20 rockets fired from Syrian territory were on target, and they were intercepted. The rest failed to make it over the border. In response, the spokesman said, the Israeli Air Force hit 70 targets, including intelligence and logistics sites around Damascus, munition warehouses, and observation and military posts – all Iranian.

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Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said the strike inflicted major damage on the Islamic Republic’s military infrastructure in Syria.

Bahrain has no diplomatic relations with Israel, nor does it recognize the Jewish state. However, last September it was reported that King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa told two rabbis from the Simon Wiesenthal Center who visited Manama in 2017 that Bahrain’s citizens were free to visit Israel. In fact, religious figures from a group called “This is Bahrain” went on a four-day visit to the Jewish state in December. One of the clerics told Hadashot TV that the king had sent them “with a message of peace to the whole world.”

Most recently, a Bahraini team came to Israel to compete in the first leg of the prestigious Giro d’Italia cycling race this past weekend, openly wearing their country’s colors. They were joined by another Gulf country’s team, the United Arab Emirates – another first.

The tiny Sunni kingdom consists of a number of islands in the Persian Gulf situated between the Qatar peninsula and the coast of Saudi Arabia, to which it is linked by a 16-mile long bridge. It is a staunch ally of its large Sunni neighbor, and together with the UAE, they are some of Iran’s fiercest opponents. The three countries publicly welcomed US President Donald Trump’s pullout from the Iran nuclear accord Tuesday.

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said in a published interview last month that Israelis were entitled to live peacefully on their own land, in a rare acknowledgement of Israel’s right to exist by a senior Arab leader.