The line has been crossed. An explosive device near the Syrian border wounded four Israeli soldiers on Tuesday, and now it’s no longer a secret that Israel is prepared to strike in Syria when needed. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Blog reported that Israel held the Syrian military as responsible for the blast, and the IDF Spokesman Twitter feed said Israeli aircraft hit back in response. It’s one of the most brazen of Syrian attacks against Israel in decades and it’s led to one of the most serious incidents between the countries in that time.
According to the IDF Blog, the Syrian targets included an army training facility, military headquarters and artillery. In a press statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that Israel would not sit still in the face of attacks. Speaking of the Syrian targets hit by the IDF, Netanyahu said, “These were targets of Syrian elements that not only facilitated, but also cooperated with, the attacks on our forces. Our policy is very clear: We attack those who attack us.”
The IDF Blog reported that “suspicious movement” was detected along the Israel-Syrian border prior to the explosive attack. This follows a failed attempt a couple weeks ago in which Hezbollah terrorists tried to place a bomb near the border, but were spotted by the IDF.
Fire from Syria into Israel is nothing new, but previously it appeared most of the incidents were either isolated or accidental. The latest incidents are much more intentional and are beginning to appear to be some new policy of Syria and their terrorist allies.
It may be an effort to hit back at Israel for the IDF’s strikes on Syrian weapons being transferred to Hezbollah. Unwilling that advanced weapons should reach the terrorists, Israel has reportedly struck in Syria on multiple occasions. Previously, however, Syria was content to merely voice complaint, rather than risk dragging Israel into the civil war.
Netanyahu made clear that Israel would not be deterred from protecting its interests. “We are also, to the best of our ability, interdicting the transfer of weapons by sea, air and land, and this activity will continue,” he said.
For most of the last 40 years, the Israel-Syria border has been relatively calm. The current situation represents some of the most violence between the countries during that time. It’s one more reason the war in Syria needs to end soon, since its spillover has already led to a quasi-civil war in Lebanon and now risks launching a regional conflict with Israel.
But don’t blame Israel for protecting themselves. Netanyahu made clear that a responsive Israeli military has thus far led to more peace, rather than conflict.
“This is what has led to—in the past year and over the last five years—a low level of terrorism,” he said in the comments released by his office. “Last year, it was the lowest in a decade, both in terms of victims and in the launching of missiles and rockets. From time to time we must take vigorous action, as we are now doing, so that this quiet may continue.”
Hopefully, that quiet will continue, which means these acts of Syrian aggression cannot.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 19, 2014)