Look left for Gaza, right for Iran

A senior defense official said it was the most widespread strike targeting Iranian infrastructure in Syria, and with the number of Iranian fatalities quite high, a retaliation is expected.

An IAF plane takes part in the IDF's 'Blue Flag' exercise. November 5th, 2017 (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
An IAF plane takes part in the IDF's 'Blue Flag' exercise. November 5th, 2017
A week after the dust settled in Gaza from heavy fighting between the IDF and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the skies on Israel’s northern front were busy with jets striking Iranian and Syrian targets in response to rockets fired towards Israel’s Golan Heights a day earlier.
It began early Tuesday morning when incoming rocket sirens wailed throughout communities in the Golan, sending thousands to bomb shelters. Four rockets had been fired from Syria in an attack believed to have been ordered by Iran.
Less than 24 hours later, over 20 targets were struck by IAF jets, killing 11 people, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Sixteen were believed to be Iranian forces belonging to Shi’ite militias or Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
A senior defense official said it was the most widespread strike targeting Iranian infrastructure in the war-torn country, and with the number of Iranian fatalities relatively high, it’s expected that Iran will retaliate.
Tit-for-tat, right?
Iran fired rockets towards Israel, perhaps its contribution to the over 400 rockets fired by PIJ last week following the assassination of the group’s commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata. Or perhaps because the Iranians were angry about the documents leaked to The Intercept and The New York Times showing the IRGC’s deep influence in Iraq.
Though relatively minimal as it caused no damage or injury, Israel can’t sit back and ignore that rocket fire. That would only embolden Israel’s enemies. So, late on Tuesday Israel’s military brass, along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, agreed on a retaliatory operation in Syria, which began around 1 a.m.
Following the strikes, Bennett said that “the rules have changed: Anyone who shoots at the State of Israel during the day will not sleep at night.”
But have the rules of the game really changed? Or are we just dealing with another round of violence in the North, like the seemingly never-ending rounds of violence in the Gaza Strip and the South?
The wording has become so similar, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate which front one is talking about.
There have been some 12 rounds of violence involving Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip since March of last year, destroying hundreds of targets and killing scores of operatives belonging to the groups.
In the North, Israel has been managing a campaign against Iranian entrenchment and weapons smuggling to Hezbollah since 2013, striking thousands of targets and killing dozens of Iranians and Shi’ite militia forces.
While a senior defense official told reporters that it was the most extensive strike against Iranian targets in Syria, he was wrong.
In May of last year, the IDF carried out its most extensive operation in Syria since 1974 – Operation House of Cards – striking more than 50 Iranian targets in Syria following a barrage of 32 Fajr-5 and Grad missiles fired towards the Golan Heights.
Dozens of positions and targets belonging to the IRGC’s Quds Force in Syria – including the launcher used to fire the rockets – were destroyed within 1.5 hours by the IAF along with the Northern Command.
That attack, which killed 18 Iranians (more than were killed on Tuesday morning), came in response to an alleged Israeli strike against Syria’s T4 airbase that killed seven IRGC soldiers. That T4 strike came in response to another attempted Iranian attack by an armed drone that infiltrated into Israel before being intercepted and shot down by an IAF attack helicopter.
By comparison, on Tuesday morning a bit over 20 targets - mainly Iranian but also several belonging to the Assad regime, were struck. In total, 11 people including four civilians were killed in the strikes, which lasted several minutes.
Despite destroying a significant amount of Iranian military hardware, Tehran has continued to increase its long-range capabilities, and has continued to launch attacks against Israel.
Thus it was only a matter of time before the deadly cycle was repeated.
And count on it being repeated over and over again. This is Israel’s Syrian War of Attrition.