The two-year civil war in Syria has often threatened to spill across the borders into other nations. This week that threat moved even closer to reality as Syrian troops (intelligence reports indicate these were government troops rather than rebels) fired on an IDF patrol jeep near the Golan border. Syria claims to have attacked the jeep inside their territory, but Israel insists the jeep was on Israeli land. Israel responded to the attack with a missile that destroyed the stronghold from which the shots were fired.
In a bluntly worded statement, Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff General Benny Gantz said, “Israel cannot allow the Golan Heights area to become a comfortable space for Assad to operate from. If he causes [the situation on] the Golan Heights to deteriorate, he will have to bear the consequences.” One reporter described the situation as “more explosive” than anything seen in recent years.
Analysts have long suspected that Assad might attempt to draw Israel into a limited war in an effort to unite his divided country and prop up his tottering regime. Israel’s recent airstrikes to destroy advanced missiles being transferred to Hezbollah terrorists heightened tensions between the two countries. This attack by Syrian forces may be a response to the airstrikes, or part of a larger plan to expand the war across Syria’s border and into Israel. Both Hezbollah and Iranian leaders have called for “freedom fighters” to go to the Golan Heights and prepare for attacks on Israel.
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