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 fire.

The incident provoked Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz to make his strongest statement yet against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“If he deteriorates the situation on the Golan Heights, he will have to bear the consequences.

I am not a fiery person, but we will have to know how to defend [ourselves].

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.

Assad regime 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.”

In 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 escalation.

“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.

“Last 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 destroyed.”

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.



Every day 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 every minute.”

“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.”

Such 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.

“To deal 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.

“Intelligence 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.”

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