Thursday September 3, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Yoav Limor

Jihad in our future

The Katyushah rockets fired at northern Israel on Sunday were most likely a preview of the future security reality along Israel's borders, entailing surprise terror attacks by an unknown and undeterred enemy, leaving Israel with only a limited ability to respond.

The obvious representatives of this reality are the various world jihad groups operating in the Sinai Peninsula, the Golan Heights and Lebanon. Their only agenda is to promote mass chaos and for them, this end justifies any and all means. Some of these groups truly subscribe to the radical Salafi ideology preached by al-Qaida, but most of them just comprise mercenaries looking for some action.

These groups spend the majority of their time fighting governments: President Bashar Assad in Syria, the military regime in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel is a natural target as well, albeit a secondary one -- first they seek to vanquish their enemies at home, and only once that is accomplished will they turn their attention to their foreign enemies.

This is why the number of attacks targeting Israel is relatively low at this time. Still, Israeli intelligence assessments say that clashes with world jihad groups are likely to increase.

The Katyushah rockets fired at northern Israel on Sunday without any warning or prior intelligence -- and according to defense sources, without the Hezbollah's knowledge -- were an example of that. If until a year ago Israel believed that nothing could take place in Lebanon unless Hezbollah wanted it to happen or, at the very least, knew about it, the events of recent months indicate the contrary: the fighting in Tyre, Sidon, Tripoli and Beirut; the terror attacks in the Shiite neighborhood of Dahiya in Beirut and near the Iranian embassy; and the assassination of Hassan al-Laqqis all indicate that Hezbollah's extensive involvement in the civil war in Syria is taking its toll on the organization in its home court -- in Lebanon.

This situation has led experts to believe that Sunday's Katyushah fire was meant to undermine Hezbollah and embarrass it vis-à-vis Israel: The Shiite terror group is heavily invested in Syria and it is not interested in fighting another front. Those firing the rockets at Israel sought to create an escalation that would force Hezbollah's hand in the matter.

Other experts believe reality may be simpler: world jihad groups seek to eradicate all those they deem as infidels, be they Muslim, Christians or Jews. Once an opportunity to strike Israel presented itself -- just like it did earlier this month when explosives were planted near the border -- there was no reason to hesitate.

A clear motive for Sunday's rocket fire has yet to be established and chances are it took place due to several reasons. The actual motive is of a lesser interest to Israel -- as far as Israel is concerned, this was the second time in a handful of days that the security situation on the Lebanon border was compromised and it had only a limited response at its disposal.

While Hamas can be held accountable for any terror attack that emanates from the Gaza Strip, even if it is executed by a fringe group, and Israel can demand it impose order on the ground, the situation in Lebanon and Syria is far more complex. Assad and Hezbollah have enough reasons of their own to want to rid themselves of these jihad groups, so Israel's threats or pressure on the matter do little to prod them into action.

Still, Israel mounted a relatively massive response to Sunday's incident, mostly to send the message that such fire, even when it does not result in casualties, would not be tolerated. It is doubtful that the Israeli response will prevent the next terror attack, leading back to the assessment that Sunday's incident was the first example of the reality that awaits us along the borders in the near future.

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