Syria and Israel crossed verbal swords Tuesday, May 21, after an overnight exchange of fire on the Golan. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned that Assad would pay the price for bringing terror to the Golan, after Damascus for the first time claimed responsibility for the gunfire on an Israeli Golan patrol Monday. Syria also threatened to strike back for Israel reprisals. The chief of staff refuted the Syrian claim to have destroyed an Israeli army vehicle that crossed to the Syrian side of the border as false.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said: “Our policy is clear – we don’t interfere in Syria’s civil war, but neither will we let the fire spill over onto our territory. Last night,” he added, “we destroyed a Syrian army position on the Golan which fired at an IDF patrol.” He spoke during a tour of naval facilities in Atlit and Haifa.
On a visit to the Golan, Gen.Gantz and OC Northern Command Yair Golan ordered Israeli Golan positions to return any fire coming from the Syrian side, a reversal of previous policy.
No one was hurt on the Israeli side. But this time, unlike the two previous incidents, Israeli forces directed a Tamuz rocket at the source of the gunfire and identified a direct hit.
To inflate the episode, the Syrian statement claimed an IDF vehicle damaged in the attack was destroyed.
debkafile’s military sources: Bashar Assad is signaling his readiness for a war on attrition on Israel from the Golan, which our sources predicted was in the works on May 15.
See debkafile Exclusive report of Monday, May 19.
A Syrian-Israeli confrontation loomed closer Tuesday, May 21, with the claim by the Damascus government of responsibility for the gunfire Monday night on an Israeli Golan patrol and threat to strike back at an Israeli target for any Israeli reprisals. No one was hurt on the Israeli side. Earlier, IDF chief of staff Lt. Benny Gantz and OC Northern Command Yair Golan visited Israeli Golan positions with orders to return any fire coming from the Syrian side.
This time, unlike the two previous incidents, Israeli forces directed a Tamuz rocket at the source of the Syrian gunfire and identified a direct hit. To inflate the episode, the Syrian statement claimed an IDF vehicle damaged in the attack was destroyed.
debkafile’s military sources: Bashar Assad is signaling his readiness for a war on attrition on Israel from the Golan, which our sources predicted was in the works on May 16.
Read debkafile Exclusive report of Monday, May 19.
Syria and Hizballah, flushed with the success of breaking the rebel hold on the strategic town of al Qusayr, Sunday, May 19, are making no secret of their plans for the “great confrontation,” i.e. military confrontaiton with Israel after they win the Syrian civil war. Israel’s military leaders are taking with the utmost seriousness the words of Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the Hizballah organ Al Akhbar, and a close buddy of Syrian president Bashar Assad, who wrote Monday:
“The rope is taut. It is taut to the limit. Anyone at either end [Israel at one end, Syrian and Hizballah, at the other] need only flex a finger and it will break, and the great confrontation will take place. This is neither a threat, nor an exaggeration or interpretation. This is the situation on the enemy’s northern front. Now means today; it means this hour,” al-Amin wrote.
Israeli intelligence experts have no doubt that the writer penned those words at the behest of his master, Hizballah’s Hassan Nasrallah, and Bashar Assad.
Israeli spokesmen and media tried hard Monday to play down the scale of the joint force’s success in capturing al-Qusayr, which sits on Syria’s main road to Lebanon and the Damascus high road to the Mediterranean, by harping on the heavy battle losses sustained by Hizballah – 50 dead and many more gravely injured.
But these losses do not detract from the Iranian Lebanese proxy’s pivotal role in the Syrian rebels’ resounding defeat and the Syrian army’s decisive victory.
It cannot be denied that the fateful setback suffered by the Syrian rebels resulted from their being abandoned to their fate at the most critical moment of their uprising by their backers, the US, Turkey, Jordan and the Arab Gulf emirates.
Syrian and Hizballah forces are getting ready to turn east for their next major offensive, the destruction of rebel strongholds in Homs and its outlying villages. Our military sources report the Syrian army has deployed its 14th Division and an expanded unit of self-propelled artillery for this joint effort. Rebel spokesmen warn that a massacre is in store.