Yesterday afternoon four Israeli soldiers were wounded along the border with Syria when an explosion hit their jeep. One soldier is in critical condition. The IDF paratroopers were standing by their vehicle when an explosive device was detonated beside them. According to the IDF, the attack was likely a failed kidnapping attempt.
The Israel Air Force has responded this morning by targeting several Syrian strongholds in the Golan Heights, including military headquarters, artillery batteries and a Syrian army training base.
The Israel-Syrian border was long considered Israel's quietest front, with essentially no military activity or incidents taking place since the Yom Kippur War in 1973. However, the Syrian Civil War has resulted in numerous events on the border over the last 12 months. In the past week alone, there have been additional attacks, including last Friday, March 14, when an IDF convoy was struck by a Hezbollah unit who had penetrated the border to plant bombs. One of the vehicles was hit directly but fortunately no Israelis were wounded.
Despite the tensions, Israel has been providing free humanitarian medical aid to Syrian refugees crossing the border, providing critical assistance to those in need. Last month, Western Galilee Hospital's Director General and CEO, Dr. Massad Barhoum, was featured at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington (see video). Barhoum, the only Arab-Israeli to lead a major Israeli hospital, spoke about the 200+ Syrians brought to Western Galilee Hospital for medical treatment. Our Jewish Federation's Maimonides Society has enjoyed a physician exchange relationship with the hospital for nearly 25 years.
In response to the latest attack, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu said, "In the past few years, we've succeeded in keeping the peace in the face of the civil war in Syria, and here too we will act forcefully to maintain Israel's security."
Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon stated that he views Syrian President Bashar Assad as responsible for the attacks. "If he [Assad] continues to cooperate with terrorists who seek to harm Israel he will continue to pay a heavy price that he will regret ...We will act responsibly in order to preserve the security of the citizens of Israel."
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