13 November 2012

On the Golan Heights: have the Syrians really deliberately fired into Israel?

Until the incident related in the piece below from The Times of Israel, via The Tablet, the IDF has been stating that it believes the mortars and shells landing in Israeli-controlled/occupied (you choose your preferred term: I'm trying to be neutral here) Golan Heights have been accidental overshoots from the fighting between the Assad regime forces and the rebels. However, this time anonymous Israeli sources (anonymous, because there isn't yet an Israeli intelligence consensus on this) are claiming that they're no longer so sure it's accidental.

Mortar and other shells have landed both in the Demilitarized Zone [DMZ] and in one or more Israeli Moshavs on the Heights, without causing (yet) any Israeli casualties. The latest incident (to which the IDF responded) came through an engagement between rebel forces and Assad regime units in and around a DMZ village on the heights. Israel retaliated and "Israeli media reports indicated that the targets hit by Israeli tanks were Soviet-made D-30 howitzer pieces. Israeli officials said the vehicle was believed to belong to the Syrian government."

No-one on the Israeli side has yet suggested that it might be the rebels trying to pretend it's the Assad regime forces, in order to get the Israelis involved against the regular army; indeed, the rebels probably don't have this sort of ordnance. If those anonymous sources are right, Assad (or his minions) are playing a very dangerous game. They can't really want to bring the might of the IDF pouring down the road to Damascus. Can they?

Or is this one of those "oh shit" moments, when you say, "o.s., look what we've done now. They'll never believe it was an accident."

Read the whole Times story here.

By: Brian Goldfarb