Friday April 18, 2014
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18.04.2014
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IDF hits Syrian target after another mortar explodes in Israel
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Avigdor Kahalani

Restraint and proportionality

Ever since the Yom Kippur War, the border along the Golan Heights has been extremely quiet, aside from one incident in November 1975, when a Syrian terrorist cell infiltrated Israel and attacked Moshav Ramat Magshimim, killing and wounding yeshiva students.

What we are currently seeing, in my estimation, are errant shots and not intentional fire. At hand are unprofessional soldiers or militia groups in the midst of civil unrest in which the people are firing at one another. In my view, this is more a matter of unprofessionalism, resulting in stray shots fired in Israel's direction.

It is clear to us all that Syria has no intention of opening a front against us, especially at a time when the entire Syrian army is busy trying to save Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Israel must find a response that doesn't drag us into an escalation of hostilities. In other words, Israel must give the Syrians the sense that it is on guard, that it's not indifferent to what is happening in Syria and that its priority is to protect its residents on the Golan Heights.

The retaliation fire against the Syrians is the correct thing to do, if the original shots came from Syrian soldiers, but we mustn't forget the need for caution and our response needs to be proportionate.

We must also remember that the Israel Defense Forces has an entire division already stationed on the Golan Heights ready to respond if the situation should arise. Therefore, I advise refraining from moving large forces up to the border. Such a move would only induce anxiety on the other side and a reciprocal border deployment.

We know from history that sometimes wars are started because of one errant shot. I am certain that neither Syria nor Israel is interested in this happening, and I expect the residents on the Golan, the pioneers, to show restraint and understanding given the circumstances.

The Syrian villages along the border have never bothered Israel. They never produced theft, sabotage or other hostile acts, and there is no reason why this should change. The bottom line is that as long as Israel shows restraint there is no risk of war erupting, let alone an escalation of hostilities.

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