Thursday, November 08, 2012

8-Nov-12: Those Arab-on-Arab killing fields are expanding

Moshav (communal settlement) Alonei Habashan close to
northern Israel's border with Syria [Image Source]   
How bad is the war situation in Syria? Measured by numbers, the picture varies widely, but it's utterly grotesque on any view. Here are some indicators to provide proportion [source]:
  • Deaths on all sides since heavy fighting started in March 2011: between 35,000 and 49,600. The website Syrian Martyrs says the number is 40,155 as of November 5, 2012
  • More than 500 children had been killed by February 2012. By last month, the Syrian group SOHR said it had risen to 2,300
  • A further 400 children had been arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons
  • Over 600 detainees and political prisoners have died under torture
Against that background, Israelis living close to our northern border, the one that separates us from Bashar Al-Assad's failed Syrian state, have grown increasingly concerned about somehow becoming caught up in the Arab-on-Arab nightmare.

This morning, the concern went up a notch.
Three mortar shells landed across Israel’s border with Syria in the Golan Heights Thursday morning... Two of the shells fell in open areas near moshav Alonei Habashan and caused no injuries or damage. A third landed inside the moshav itself — the first incident of Syrian fire hitting a residential area — but failed to explode and no damage was reported. IDF sappers were dispatched to the scene to defuse it, and the area was closed off... On Monday, an army jeep was hit by a stray bullet from Syrian territory, just days after top IDF brass toured the region. The IDF has been kept on high alert since November 3, when three Syrian tanks strayed into the demilitarized zone separating the two borders, leading Israel to lodge an official complaint with UN peacekeepers stationed in the DMZ. In September a number of mortars fired by regime forces landed in the north of the Golan Heights, and in another incident Syrian soldiers entered the demilitarized zone. [Times of Israel]
Alonei Habashan (Alonei means "oaks of" and Bashan is the name by which the Bible refers to the Golan Heights - you can see it in Isaiah 2:13) is a communal settlement located very close to Israel's Syrian border.

Something that Avi Dichter, Israel's Minister for Home Front Defence, wrote on his Facebook page is reported today on the Al Arabiya news website:
Pointing to the difficulty of pinpointing those responsible for firing the mortar bombs for possible military action against them. With “no return address,” he wrote, Israeli defence officials have to adopt “a very careful response policy.”
An analysis by security analyst Daniel Nisman that appears today on the Israeli Ynet site ["As Assad regime grows more desperate, prospects for provocative attack against Israel will only increase"] suggests that 
As the Assad regime grows increasingly desperate, the prospects for a provocative attack against Israel will only increase, leading to a widely-feared regional escalation. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has already threatened that Israeli intervention in Syria would cause his militia to unleash some 70,000 rockets currently pointed at the Jewish State. It's a scenario the Israelis have planned for since it had become evident in July that military intervention could be necessary to stop Assad’s chemical weapons from being transferred to extremist groups, including Hezbollah. Meanwhile, the IDF Home Front Command has spent the last few months drilling mass casualty rocket attacks across Israel's Northern District to the point of exhaustion, while the IDF has replaced its reservist units on the Golan Heights with far more capable draft units.
As if Israel's security situation were not already complicated enough.

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