Why Israel Destroyed Syrian Tanks Last Weekend

As Syrian government forces, with help from Iran and Russia, mount an offensive to drive rebel groups from their strongholds in the southwestern part of the country, and the rebels counterattack, fighting has intensified in Quneitra just over the border from the Israeli Golan. Last weekend, ten Syrian mortar and tank shells—aimed at rebel troops along the border—landed in Israel, causing the IDF to respond by attacking Syrian positions. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:

[T]he Syrian army tossed aside all of its rules of caution and fired at the rebel forces that attacked it without considering the fact the fire could spill over into Israel. The Syrian army usually avoids firing into Israeli territory, knowing how rapidly and aggressively Israel will respond, as part of its policy not to allow any fire into, or violation of sovereignty on, its territory.

This Israeli policy stems from the understanding that failure to respond aggressively to any spillover into Israeli territory, even an unintentional spillover, will be interpreted as a violation of Israeli sovereignty and could turn from a drizzle into a flood, not to mention wearing out the Israeli deterrence in the Golan Heights. Israel, therefore, has made it a point to respond. . . .

Saturday’s errant fire was unusual in two aspects: first, it included an unusual number of mortar shells and tank projectiles that landed in an open area in Israel, as opposed to the usual spillover of one or two mortar shells. Saturday’s incident also included direct tank fire, and the shooters were perfectly aware of the fact the shells would hit Israeli territory.

Second, there were thousands of Israeli travelers in the Golan Heights when the Syrian mortars were fired, and they could have gotten hurt. The Syrians, who are watching our area at all times, were aware—or at least should have been aware—of that fact, which is why the Israeli response was unusually severe.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Golan Heights, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7