According to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida, as relayed through the Jerusalem Post, Israel has warned Syrian president Bashar Assad that he will be personally targeted by the Israeli Defense Force if he starts a war.
The warning is said to have been relayed through the Turkish government, following “intelligence reports of unusual Syrian troop movements, including the moving of long-range ballistic missiles that could be used to target Israel.”
This sort of provocation is consistent with Assad’s previous behavior, in which he has tried to divert from domestic problems by getting various segments of Syria’s population riled up against Israel. There is credible evidence that Syria hired muscle and orchestrated a Palestinian rush on the border of the Golan Heights earlier this month, leading to a confrontation that killed over twenty people. The Syrian government newspaper promised there would be future attacks.
A more sizable action along these lines could be coming in September, when the Palestinians may try to seek formal recognition of a state through the United Nations. Whether this move succeeds or fails, a massive uprising is possible, and Haaretz today carried a report that the IDF doubts it could control the situation using non-lethal weapons.
An IDF officer claimed that “a non-violent protest of 4,000 people or more, even if they only march to a checkpoint or a settlement, and especially if the Palestinian police does not deter them, will be unstoppable. Such a great number of determined people cannot be stopped by tear gas and rubber bullets.”
If the Syrian government views such chaos as an opportunity to intervene militarily, it makes sense to remind them that the IDF can hit Assad right where he lives – a message previously delivered by having a pair of fighter jets buzz the dictator’s palace in 2006.
It’s better than relying on the good sense of the United Nations, which periodically does weird things… such as putting North Korea in charge of a disarmament conference.