It's unbelievable, but even after three years of a civil war in Syria and a death toll of 145,000, the Israeli establishment still believes that Syria is Assad – and therefore the punishment for the border fence attack was directed at Syrian army bases.
Reality, on the other hand, is different: Assad controls about one-fifth of the country, and most of our border is no longer under his control but under the control of the different rebels, most of whom are jihadist Sunnis. And Israel should know that, because it provides those rebels with medical aid.
The media reported that the organization responsible for the attack was Hezbollah, which was avenging the alleged Israeli bombings against it – but Hezbollah, like the Syrian regime, is also much too busy fighting deep inside Syria. The Israeli border is not a Hezbollah area, but the area of Salafi rebels who would gladly get their hands on Shiite Hezbollah fighters among them.
Then who is carrying out the attacks on the border? A hint was provided last week, when the big Salafi Sunni organization, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took responsibility for a similar attack in the border triangle on Mount Dov, although Israel had claimed even then that it was Hezbollah.
Indeed, the Syrian territory in the Golan Heights is already filled with Salafi Sunni terrorist forces. In the whole of Syria they include tens of thousands, and they are continuing to multiply. Because Syria's borders have been broken open to Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and part of the Jordanian border, thousands of Sunnis join the battles every day, most of them from Arab countries. There is already a jihadist Sunni country from Baghdad to our fence in the Golan. Until now, these forces were busy fighting the regime's army, but they are slowly taking over additional territories and finding time for Israel.
Playing make believeIf that is the case, is it possible that Israel is pointing an accusing finger at the wrong side? After all, the Salafi Sunni organization, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, is Hezbollah's greatest enemy. So why are we blaming the Shiites? Because against Hezbollah or the Assad army we still have a deterrence ability, but against the Salafis there is zero deterrence. That is the situation in Sinai, in the Red Sea and in the Gaza Strip, where we are pressuring Hamas to curb the jihadists. And so all those fantasizing about Assad as a peace partner or about a solution with the Palestinians which will prevent the extremists from taking over, are simply playing make believe.
The big danger is that the misidentification of the enemy will cause damage. If, for example, the jihadist Sunnis realize that Israel's response to their actions is directed against Assad, they will only step up their actions in order to harm Assad – and Israel will find itself drawn into a war it does not belong in.
This is a gradual process. No one is standing and declaring, "We are intervening in Syria," but that's the result. That way we are also losing the most important strategic effect in our history: The proof that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, which is engaged in intra-Arab and intra-Islamic fighting, and that the conflict with us is marginal, if not invented.
Therefore, the best advice is to defend the borders are much as possible, but to stay away from the Syrian swamp. To immediately stop the embarrassing medical care offered to hundreds of Syrian rebels, some of whom may be among the fence terrorists – because no one will remember our kindness in this unnecessary treatment. The United States has just given Jordan a billion dollars to treat the Syrians, so let them take their injured there.
It's easy to look for tactical achievements, and then pay with strategic damage – we've already been in this situation in Lebanon. What started off with good intentions, ended eventually with a lost generation of 18 years, with 1,000 dead soldiers. We have to continue declaring neutrality in the Syrian war, and stick to it even if there are provocations. Israel is not the problem, is not the reason and is not the solution in Syria.