Tension between Jerusalem and Damascus ratcheted up Tuesday as the IDF and the
Syrian Army exchanged fire when a Syrian army position – that fired on an IDF
border patrol three times overnight on Monday – was destroyed in return Israeli
The incident provoked Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz to make
his strongest statement yet against Syrian President Bashar Assad.
deteriorates the situation on the Golan Heights, he will have to bear the
I am not a fiery person, but we will have to know how to
All in all, the reality on the Golan Heights is
unstable, and it is being undermined,” Gantz said Tuesday at a conference held
by Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
The fact that the
Assad regime’s media outlets took responsibility for the crossborder attack
marks a change in Syria’s public stance towards Israel.
media outlets also warned that “any future aggression by Israel will be answered
by Syria. Those who think we are weak and are trying us are wrong.”
the incident, an IDF patrol jeep was lightly damaged by the shots, before the
Artillery Corps destroyed the source of the cross-border attack with a guided
Tamuz missile. Three Syrian soldiers were killed in the return fire, Channel 2
said Monday evening.
The army released thermal images of the Syrian
crossborder attack and the Israeli response. Syrian state television claimed an
Israeli jeep crossed into Syria and was destroyed by the Syrian army, claims
that were dismissed by the IDF.
Following the incident, Gantz visited the
Golan Heights and inspected the army’s forces, ensuring their readiness for an
“In Syria, we see that things are occurring, beginning with
the transfer of arms, and including threats by Assad, who is speaking,
encouraging and directing an increase in action against Israel in various
degrees on the Golan Heights,” Gantz told the Haifa conference.
night, our patrol, which is clearly located on the border fence, came under fire
three times from a Syrian position. Enough is enough.
The position was
Gantz said the IDF won’t allow the Golan Heights region to
become a place where Assad can direct attacks against Israel. IDF video shows Syrian shooting at IDF forces and IDF firing back at the Syrian position, 21st May 2013.
Israel is faced with sensitive decisions on incidents that can lead the region
into an uncontrollable deterioration, Gantz added.
Speaking to the
Israeli International C5I (Command and Control, Computers, Communications, Cyber
and Intelligence) conference in Zichron Ya’acov, south of Haifa, Gantz told the
audience, “We live in a strategic and security environment in which the central
and leading aspect is its unstable reality.
Nothing that happens tomorrow
or the day after is similar to yesterday or two days ago, and the story changes
“Undoubtedly, what has accompanied us for the past 40
years has been characterized by stable, powerful threats, from the Syrian and
Egyptian areas,” he said. “[It] has now been replaced with a certain decrease of
the threat of a [hostile] military maneuver and long-range firepower, components
of terrorism on the Egyptian border, the Golan Heights, and the other regions.
This is happening every day.”
Addressing the issue of “sensitive
explosiveness,” Gantz said the military is facing a “wide range of military
threats... and operational challenges in every arena. We are under a clear
multi-arena influence.... there is a connection between Gaza and Sinai, and Gaza
and the West Bank, and between Syria and Lebanon, and vice versa.”
challenges include targets that appear and quickly disappear, requiring high
accuracy fire power, and the swift transmission of information between the IDF
source that identifies a target and the entity which attacks it.
with this, we need a large amount of forces, a balance between attack and
defense, a lot of tanks, planes, infantry and surveillance, and we can’t have it
all. This is a problem. We have to be able to station the forces at any place at
any time. We have to exploit our advantage in personnel and technology, in that
order,” Gantz explained.
The IDF will continue to develop its advanced
intelligence capabilities, Gantz said, but added, “We’ll never know everything,
uncertainty will always remain.”
He likened lack of intelligence to a
blind man who has been told there is a nail lodged in the wall opposite him, and
who proceeds to shatter the whole wall with a hammer.
allows us not to shatter the whole wall, because of noncombatants and the
principles of war, and this is all made possible by teleprocessing, a network
that connects systems and military branches,” Gantz said.
“I don’t mind a
delay of 30 minutes in being informed that we destroyed 1,000 targets, but those
on the ground have to know in real time. A networked IDF, that can connect
between intelligence and operational capabilities, will make its forces
effective,” he added.
Ultimately, the ones who are at risk are still the
combat soldiers who must charge forward, Gantz stressed.
“I’m not sure
you’re glad I came,” he joked, adding, “The nature of war has not changed.”