Israel, Syria, Trade Fire, Threats in Golan Heights

The Increasingly desperate Baath regime in Syria appears to be seeking skirmishes with Israel as a way of shoring up its nationalist credentials. If the regime were under fire from Israel, that would put the rebels in the position of acting as allies of Tel Aviv and so discrediting them. Hence, Syria’s troops fired at an Israeli jeep in the Occupied Golan Heights (Syrian territory grabbed by Israel in the 1967 war). It was the fifth such Syrian provocation in the territory. Israel’s top general warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would “pay the price” if he undermined security in the area.

According to the USG Open Source Center, ‘Voice of Israel Network B in Hebrew adds at 1500 GMT that addressing a Haifa University conference, [Israeli Chief of Staff Gen. Benny] Gantz said that Syrian President Al-Asad “encourages action against Israel in the Golan Heights.” He asserted that Al-Asad will pay the price if he undermines stability in the area and that Israel will not let him to turn the Golan Heights into what he termed Al-Asad’s comfort zone. Gantz denied Syrian claims that its men destroyed an IDF jeep that had entered its territory. According to him, fire was opened several times at an IDF patrol driving along the border fence from a Syrian position, but none of the soldiers was hurt.”‘

Euronews reports:

At Haaretz, Ahiqam Moshe David observed (via Israel News Today):

“Incidents on Saturday and Sunday nights saw bullets fired at the vicinity of Tel Hazeqa, one of the best-known IDF outposts on the Golan Heights. The IDF believes that that gunfire was accidental, the result of battles between the rebel forces and the Syrian army. Either way, no fewer than five incidents of gunfire at the Golan Heights have been recorded since the beginning of May, more than the number of attacks out of the Gaza Strip at southern Israel communities…

That said, in the aftermath of the attack in Damascus on missiles that were earmarked for Hizballah — an attack that, according to foreign reports, was carried out by Israel — the Israeli policy of retaliation was revised, as IDF officials admit. If in the past the instructions were to retaliate to all fire out of Syrian territory, regardless of whether it was intentional or unintentional, now the army is no longer in any rush to respond with firepower, as part of the effort to reduce tensions. “We’re more cautious and are less interested in clashes,” said one military official. “That’s manifested itself in taking a step back…”

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10 Responses

  1. Israel prefers a powerless Assad staying in power and is creating justification for keeping the Golan’s by facilitating the further presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. Iranians do not understand the extend of pain they are creating while empowering Israel to play out as a full fledged nation state. with UN dysfunctional and USA out of the way only sky is the limit.

  2. [It was the fifth such Syrian provocation in the territory. ]

    Aha, now it is Syrians who attack Israel, not another way around…

  3. We need to be very careful of allegations of Syria attacking Israel. The Assad’s have assiduously protected the peace over the last 40 years. Meanwhile, Israel has felt free to bomb targets in Syria on occasion.

    Let’s also remember that Israel typically starts invasions to the north at this time of year–April, 1982; April, 1996; July, 2006.

  4. I believe Henry James’ comment above gets to the core point on this posting.

  5. Quite right, Henry James. Israel should leave the Golan. Surely Syria can do what it likes on its own territory.

  6. Yes yes, everyone, of course it’s always and everywhere justified to shoot at Israel.

    And yet, that doesn’t necessarily make it a terribly good idea. Nor does it indicate particularly good things about the Assad government or its grasp on power.

    Saddam did this right before the coalition forces invaded in 1991.

  7. Maybe Israel would leave Golan if Syria made peace with it.

    After Egypt made peace with Israel, all the Israeli settlements were removed by troops under the command
    of that noted anti-Zionist Ariel Sharon.

    You would think that Assad would be willing to do anything he could to remove the Israeli presence from Golan. But I guess offering to stop shooting at Israeli civilians from the Golan Heights is too high a price to pay.

    • Anon…I don’t know if you actually believe that which you just wrote; but I think most other people -that know even a little bit about the ME- would most assuredly not believe (even a little bit)what you just wrote…

  8. Joe from Lowell and Anon should read some Israeli history. Moshe Dayan admitted that most of the attacks by Syria prior to the Six Day War were prompted by Israeli provocations.

    Israel knows that its provocations receive no press coverage in the media. Only Arabe responses get coverage.

  9. According to the Syrian Military Command, about the last incidente on Monday(21:ooh GMT), the Israeli vehicle crossed the cease fire line towards the village of Bin Ajam,inside Syria.
    Israel is in close liaison with rebel commanders in Southern Syria, implying frequent incursions into Syria. In this regard, a report by Debka, the Israeli intelligence news agency (May 8, 2013) confirms that wounded Al Nusra rebel fighters are being provided medical care in an Israeli hospital facility in the Golan Heights:

    Israel has set up a large field hospital near the Tel Hazakah observation and military post on Golan which overlooks southern Syria and northern Jordan. There, incoming Syrian war wounded [Al Nusra rebels] are vetted and examined by Israeli army medics who decide whether to patch them up and send them back, or judge them badly hurt enough for hospital care.
    And now, in Golan Heights there are a ” war of attrition”.
    One clichè: ” Syria has the right to self defense”.

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