The IDF’s well-planned and cool-headed response to the new threat of flooding the nation’s borders with civilian rioters sent a firm message to hostile neighbors on Sunday that Israel takes its sovereignty seriously.
The chaotic scenes of May 15, when Syrian-Palestinian “Nakba” activists managed to cross into Israel, with one man even making it as far south as Tel Aviv, jolted the IDF’s Northern Command to fortify the northern border with a second barbed-wire perimeter and new lookout positions, and to position senior commanders on the ground, who could quickly respond to developments and issue new orders.
IDF rebuffs ‘Naksa’ rioters trying to cross Syrian border
Druse express anger at Assad for exploiting Palestinians
Gallery: Naksa Day protests erupt along country borders
This time around, although fewer activists turned up on the border, the situation could still have gone out of control and resulted in a far higher casualty count had the IDF not implemented several lessons from last month.
The IDF concentrated forces in the right areas this time, near Majdal Shams and Kuneitra, and no one in the army was surprised when reports from Syria, which said that the mass marches set for Sunday had been canceled, proved to be false.
The IDF is fully aware that it is forced to fight a media war alongside defending the borders.
To that end, soldiers were instructed beforehand to only open fire after
issuing repeated warnings to activists against trying to breach the
border. As a result of the intensive preparations, soldiers felt they
had clear guidelines to follow.
This operational clear-headedness, together with the presence of senior
commanders nearby, provided the young soldiers with a sense of security
that was vital to the restraint they showed throughout the day.
At the same time, all observers are united in the belief that hostile
elements will try to organize larger border incidents soon, and IDF
commanders are already preparing for those developments.