Defense chiefs have long suspected that this moment would come, when regional
turmoil would directly affect the southern and northern borders
In the North, despite several warnings to the Assad
regime in Syria, mortar shells fired by the Syrian army continued to fall in the
Golan Heights. Just as the Syrian civil war has spilled into Turkey in the past,
its mortars were now knocking on Israel’s northern door, and the IDF decided
that the time had come to send an unmistakable signal to Damascus.
firing of an advanced guided missile at a Syrian military artillery battery is
historic – it’s the first time IDF ground forces have fired on the Syrian army
in 39 years. The decision was the result of months of deliberations in the IDF
and its Northern Command.
Soldiers on the Golan Heights have been hearing
the exchanges of fire between rebels and the Syrian army for many months, and by
the summer, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and planners in the Northern Command had
already formulated a plan of action to deal with an escalation.
to the plan, Israel would begin with verbal warnings to Syria; those have
already been passed on through the UN repeatedly, and had no effect, as the
Syrian mortars kept on exploding in Israel.
Phase two involves the firing
of a warning shot. An ordinary artillery shell fired back into Syria would not
In a display of hi-tech firepower, the IDF launched an expensive
guided missile called Tapuz, in order to send the message that although this was
a only warning, future Syrian transgressions would be met with more punishing
The ball is now in Assad’s court. To the extent that he
maintains control over his forces, Israel’s warning may prompt him to order his
army to be more careful when it fights rebels near the Israeli border.
unlikely possibility also exists; that Assad may use the incident as an excuse
to enter into a confrontation with Israel. With his forces so heavily involved
in the civil war against Syrian rebels, gaining a new enemy on the battleground
seems a most foolish option, but it cannot be discounted altogether, for
desperate dictators may take desperate steps.
The IDF cannot discount the
danger of an escalation on the Syrian border, and would presumably have all of
the required armored vehicles, infantry, and artillery forces in place to ensure
that Israel is prepared for any development.
Meanwhile, in the south, the
IDF is being forced into a confrontation with Gazan terror organizations. These
are feeling especially brazen in light of the Islamist ascendancy in Egypt. As a
result, Israeli deterrence is currently at rock bottom, and the terrorists are
firing rockets at will into southern Israel.
As regional turmoil
continues, new and old threats will seek to exploit the chaos to attack Israel.
The IDF is on guard for developments on multiple fronts, while seeking to
rebuild its deterrence.