IDF actions signal Israel’s seriousness over sovereignty

Analysis: Several lessons from last month's "Nakba" riots were vital to minimizing casualties in renewed Syrian border clashes.

June 6, 2011 01:46
1 minute read.
IDF solders on the Syrian-Israeli border.

Naksa day at Syrian border FOR GALLERY 465 09. (photo credit: Reuters )


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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.

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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.

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