Israel Prepping for Any Possibility Along Border with Syria

February 22, 2013 11:33 am 1 comment

IDF soldier participating in a military drill in the Golan Heights, simulating a battle on Israel's northeastern border. Photo: IDF.

The Syrian civil war has raged for two years, with Israel more or less avoiding a spillover of hostilities. But recent months have seen minor escalations, and with Syrian rebels battling Bashar al-Assad’s government forces as well as Hezbollah near Israel’s border with Syria, fears that the country’s war could become Israel’s are real. A new fence, more troops and the deployment of multiple Iron Dome defense systems has not allayed fears that violence could erupt on the Israeli side at any moment. “Things can change dramatically in hours,” Kobi Marom, a resident of the Golan Heights ski village, Neve Ativ, and reserve Army colonel, told Christian Science Monitor. “We are trying to be prepared for a new situation in the region.” Many in Israel see the northern threat as a small price to pay for the ultimate payoff, the fall of the Assad regime. This would sever the “Shiite crescent” that stretches from Tehran, through Syria and into Lebanon. Others remain hesitant, unsure of what will happen when Assad falls and all that’s left are varying rebel groups fighting to claim power. “The main question is the day after,” says Bernadetta Berti, a fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. “From the Israeli perspective, a Syria not ruled by Assad is something that it should look upon favorably, but from my perspective the day after, Assad will be complicated.” Another concern for Israel is the movement of chemical and biological weapons from Syria into Lebanon. Israeli officials have made it clear they won’t stand for such actions, calling it a “red line” and, though keeping with its official policy of making no public comment on the matter, a recent strike on a weapons convoy is thought to have been carried out by the Jewish state. One Israeli Middle East analyst told the Christian Science Monitor that Israel risks becoming embroiled in the Syrian fighting, much like Israel became embroiled in the Lebanon civil war, culminating with an invasion in 1982. “If you draw a red line, you will have to enforce that red line, and that will push you into the conflict,” says Guy Bechor, a Middle East historian at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center. “We have been there in Lebanon trapped in between religions and sects. This is not our war.” Joshua Mitnick, the reporter for the Christian Science Monitor, visited the Alonei Habashan farming cooperative, located just a quarter of a mile from Israel’s border with Syria, and reported that residents there are readying themselves for anything.  The main gate is closed at night and residents told him they are locking their doors for the first time for fear of infiltration. “We will get hit first,” Yiska Dekel, chairwoman of the local board, told him. According to Mitnick Israeli analysts believe the best-case scenario for a post-Assad Syria would be a Sunni-dominated government with ties to Turkey and the Gulf. But right now the immediate concern is security. “I hope the Army has a plan for a security zone,” says a security officer at a Golan Heights Israeli community who declined to give his name because he is subject to the Army. “I don’t like it, but if no one gets control over Syria, we’ll have no alternative.”

1 Comment

  • There are about 180,000 Syrian refugees in Turkey — the vast majority of whom are ethnic Turks,not Arabs-but Turks who arabized after rejecting the secular reforms of Ataturk..and were caught behind the line drawn to create a French mandate.
    Millions of these arabized Turks reside in Syria..Convetion had it that only 10,000 or so were Turkish speaking this is now seen as a gross understatement..it seems that many of the refugees are familiar with Turkish words and phrases and at least still a rudimentary understanding of Turkish..as many American Jews have a familiarity with some Yiddish. The Turkish roots were never as suppressed as supposed.
    as part of the Syrian Sunni community they nevertheles intermarried among themselves and attended Sunni mosques that were in fact Turkish in congregants.Turkey will never again abandon these prodigal children who abandonded a culture.Turkish influence will remain strong.

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