Syria-Israel Exchange Fire as Border Heats Up

Israeli Tank. Illustrative. By Joshua Spurlock.Remember how the threat of war between Israel and Syria has been growing? Well, those tensions took another half-step towards real conflict on Tuesday after Syria shot at an Israeli military jeep on patrol in the border region. Israel responded to the attack by shooting back and hitting “the source of the gunfire,” according to the website for the Israeli military (known as the IDF).

Sadly such cross-border shots are not new—Israel has taken a number of them and has been forced to respond on multiple occasions in the last seven months. But this one was worse than normal, because Syria’s official news agency (SANA) claimed the Syrians destroyed an Israeli vehicle.

Syria has a tendency to exaggerate things, so the IDF version in which the vehicle was only lightly damaged appears to be the real story. Still, just claiming to destroy an Israeli vehicle is a small step towards actual war.

Here’s why: Israel and Syria have had something of a cold war for decades. That cold war has warmed up in recent months since Syria has tried to arm anti-Israel terrorists with advanced weapons. Israel has bombed those weapons inside Syria to prevent them from reaching the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

But each time Israel has had to strike at Syria in the past, Syria has decided not to act or even claim they had done so. Tuesday’s fabricated story of destroying an Israeli vehicle is an escalation because Syria suddenly feels comfortable saying they have attacked Israel.

Just saying they attacked Israel is still a ways away from actually attacking Israel. But Syria is feeling bolder and bolder—if they get desperate enough, they just might try something crazy. Then we’ll have a real war on our hands.

That would be particularly bad for you, since Israel is a key US ally and we don’t want them to be fighting a major war. Plus, oil markets prefer a calm Middle East—meaning war could lead to higher gas prices.

For now, it’s just potshots, return fire, lots of rhetoric and a few Syrian lies.

But it bears watching to see what happens next as this already tense border just got hotter.

(By Joshua Spurlock,, May 21, 2013)


What do you think?