An Israeli-Palestinian teenage boy was killed by an explosion on the Syrian ceasefire line which ripped apart the truck in which he was riding with his father. According to this NY Times report, the father worked for the defense ministry as a contractor. Israel is saying he drove a water tanker, though I’m unsure why a defense contractor would drive a water truck on one of the currently most restive borders in the region. Likewise, I’m not sure why a father would take his son with him on such a journey given the tensions between Syria and Israel in the region, where there have been multiple incidents of cross-border attacks in recent months.
Jodi Rudoren reports that Israel accused unspecified “rebels” of the attacks:
General Ben-Reuven said that rebels were probably behind the attack, but that Israel nonetheless held President Bashar al-Assad of Syria responsible and had fired at his military to “tell them: you have to control your area and stop this terror organization acting against Israel.”
The term “rebels” is highly, and perhaps deliberately misleading. No Syrian rebels would fire on Israel. In fact, Israel has supported the Syrian rebels and created a southern front using Syrian Druze, with whom it’s collaborated in policing the Syrian side of the Golan.
My Israeli source says the Israeli military suspects that Hezbollah was behind the attack. The militant group is expert at penetrating Israel’s border with Lebanon and apparently is using some of these skills at infiltrating Israel. The article notes that the fence marking the ceasefire line had been damaged by the projectile which hit the truck.
I reported last month that Syrian general Samir al-Sheikh, one of Assad’s trusted inner circle, had been assassinated by the Mossad. One of the reasons for his killing was that he was chief liaison with Hezbollah in the Golan border region. He trained and sponsored numerous Hezbollah attacks on Israeli forces along the Golan ceasefire line. The fighters he trained continue their efforts at sabotage.
Israel retaliated for the attack by attacking nine Syrian government military positions. If Syrian rebels orchestrated the attack, it makes no sense to attack Assad’s forces. How is he to control forces fighting to overthrow him in the midst of a civil war? No, the Israeli retaliation is directed against Assad’s forces because of their close alliance with Hezbollah. The attack might also be seen as Hezbollah’s response to the Mossad’s attempted murder of Lebanon’s security chief, who is closely allied with Hezbollah.
No Israeli government would mount such a fierce attack solely as revenge for the killing of an Israeli-Palestinian. The real reason for the counter-attack is to hit back at Israel’s mortal enemy, Hezbollah.