Friday, March 21, 2014

IDF Chief: Those who act against us will Feel our Response

by Yoav Limor

The Israeli airstrikes in Quneitra on Wednesday morning told us that Israel has reached a conclusion: Syria is responsible for the recent explosive devices laid on the Israel-Syria border fence in the Golan Heights, including Monday's explosion which wounded four paratroopers.

In Israel, it is believed that Syria's decision to open a new front on the Israeli border was a response to the multiple strikes which took place in Syria, intended to thwart the transfer of advanced weaponry to Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah. It is unclear whether Hezbollah took part in terrorist activity, but the Syrian regime's fingerprints are clear and unequivocal, among them the Syrian army (Brigade 90, which operates in the region), its military security apparatus near the border and the Syrian homeland defense force. Israeli jets struck targets belonging to those three groups on Wednesday.

From the information gathered, Israel believes terrorist groups employed by embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime are responsible for the attacks. As proof, the defense establishment has pointed out that all of the attacks were carried out in regions under Syrian military control, while areas under rebel control have not seen terrorist activity pointed at Israel.

Wednesday morning's strike -- the first time Israel admitted to carrying out an airstrike in Syria since bombing terrorist camps in Ain es Saheb in 2003 -- was meant to change the rules of the game with Syria. Israel in effect told Syria it would not tolerate a change of the dynamic on the border, or any increase in attacks on IDF troops.

As of Wednesday night, it remained to be seen whether Damascus would change its policy, or whether the Israeli action would draw a Syrian response. Senior officials in Israel stated that Israel will maintain that any violation of its sovereignty will be met with a response, and that it will not allow future attempts to transfer advanced weaponry to Lebanon go silently.

On the backdrop of the instability in Syria and the Assad regime's increased commitment to Hezbollah and Iran for their support, the IDF's level of response demonstrated on Wednesday might be put to the test again in the near future.

Yoav Limor


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