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On Golan Heights, IDF Fights to Keep Israel Safe and out of Syria

The commanders of the Kfir Brigade trained in the Golan Heights with the Armored Corps and the Combat Engineering Corps. (Photo: flickr/IDF)

With the Syrian civil war continuing, with ISIS still spreading across the Middle East, and with Hezbollah a constant threat to Israel, the IDF has its hands full protecting the Israeli-Syrian border. The Times of Israel's Judah Ari Gross takes an in-depth look at the various threats facing Israel from the north:

For almost 40 years the Israeli-Syrian border was one of the country’s quietest, with a United Nations presence, in the form of UNDOF soldiers, helping to keep the peace.

But in the five years since the outbreak of the bloody Syrian civil war, which according to some estimates has claimed the lives of nearly half a million people, that border has become a powder-keg.

Intentional and inadvertent attacks by the larger rebel groups, as well as the potential for small terror cells to take advantage of the lawlessness and mayhem in Syria to carry out attacks against the Jewish state, threaten to plunge Israel’s northern border into a conflict no one would want.

The larger groups — the al-Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade — which control the areas surrounding the Syrian border, have little incentive to attack Israel at this stage, the officer from the IDF’s Northern Command said.

The more immediate threat comes from jihadi organizations that are less interested in capturing territory, and more interested in either anti-Israel ideology or a desire to please Iran by carrying out attacks against the Jewish state, the officer said.

Hezbollah, for instance, has a small presence in the Assad-controlled city of Hader, but has much less infrastructure there than it does in Lebanon. That makes it a prime base of operations, as there’s less for the IDF to destroy in retaliation for an attack.

“It’s kind of a no-man’s land, so you can [carry out attacks] without having strong actions taken against you. That will keep up their story that they’re still fighting the IDF and still fighting Israel, but without very harsh consequences,” the officer said.

To stay out of that morass, but still stay safe, Israel must strike a balance between keeping its cool in the face of accidental spillover, while maintaining its vigilance against deliberate attacks, the senior IDF official said...

Tags: IDF

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