If Israel goes to war with any of its neighbours before this year ends it will be with Gaza not Syria, despite appearances.
The Israeli army fired into Syria on Monday for the second day in a row, after a Syrian mortar round from fighting across the disengagement line hit the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
Sunday’s Israeli missile was a warning shot. Monday’s tankfire scored a direct hit, the army said. There was no immediate word on any casualties. But it was the “message” Israel had warned would come.
“There were five incidents of supposed errant fire from small arms or mortars,” Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio on Monday before the second incident.
“We sent verbal messages. This didn’t help. So yesterday, for the first time, we sent a physical message,” he added. “If the message was understood, good. If the message was not understood, we will need to send other messages of the kind.”
Syrian rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad have been fighting his army for months in towns inside and adjacent to the Area of Separation between Israel and Syria, along the disengagement line drawn at the end of their 1973 war.
Technically they are still at war, but it is a cold war.
For almost 40 years the Golan has been one of Israel’s quietest fronts, and despite the close-up view of the Syrian civil war they now have from windy Golan outposts, Israeli generals are not expecting things to heat up in the north.