Channel 2 TV reported that a landmine exploded on the Syrian side of the Israel-Syria border on Sunday. Military officials said the incident, which took place near the Kunetra crossing, may have been an attempt by Hizbullah to drag Syria to the conflict with Israel.
The circumstances of the incident remain unclear at this point; it is possible that an explosive device was attached to the mine and set it off. Security forces are also looking into the possibility that the mine exploded by accident. No injuries were reported among IDF soldiers.
IDF officials have been saying since the onset of the fighting in Lebanon that Hizbullah would try to get Syria involved in the conflict; such an attempt was made when the organization fired rockets toward the Golan Heights in the hope that Syria would be blamed for the attack. A senior IDF officer said recently that Hizbullah may even go as far as intentionally firing at Syria to escalate regional tensions.
The second one concerns the public posturing of Syria’s President Assad as reported by Ynet:
Syrian President Bashar Assad put the Syrian army on high alert in anticipation of any developments. In a statement issued to mark the army's 61st anniversary Assad said Syria will not be deterred from helping Lebanon. "The occupying enemy hasn't forgotten the humiliating defeat and its submissive exit from south Lebanon under the strikes bold resistance," the statement read.
"Syria, which stood by its brother (Lebanon) and sacrificed martyrs to defend Lebanon's freedom as we did for Syria's sovereignty, remains as always adamant in standing by our Arab people who's fighting in Lebanon and Palestine, and by the bold national resistance who struck the enemy. All threats voiced by powers in the world who support t he enemy won't deter us from continuing to support our brothers," he said.
Assad called on the army to be prepared for all scenarios "because we believe that falling for the sake of heaven (martyrdom) is the only way to freedom and victory. We have to make all effort in training to save every drop of blood when the hour comes. The fighting continues so long our land is occupied and our rights are denied. Victory will be achieved God willing."
Assad said that this year's anniversary comes at time when "the Israeli enemy continues its extermination war against our proud peoples in Lebanon and Palestine. Our brothers in Lebanon are being subjected to aggression by the Israeli war machine from the air, the sea and the ground," Assad said.
Now Assad may strictly be posturing and wanting to cash in on some of the good will and popular support that Hezbollah’s is reaping from the so-called “Arab Street” for fighting Israel. He needs to posture in order to position himself ready to reap any “just rewards’ that kind of bluster can buy on the street.
The third one is found at the Jerusalem Post which is reporting that Syria opposes any new international peacekeeping force in Lebanon:
Syria has told Egypt's foreign minister it opposed the creation of any new international force in Lebanon, but would not be averse to the expansion of the current UN force there, widely regarded as ineffectual, officials said Monday.
"The Syrians are talking about expanding the UNIFIL," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters in Cairo, referring to the widely criticized UN force created in 1978 to restore stability in the area. He acknowledged to reporters that Syria did oppose the sending of any new international force, as the United States and others are pushing, to police the border region.
If Syria still has territorial designs on Lebanon any multi-national force deployed with teeth are in a position to set back Assad’s program so it makes sense that Syria wouldn’t be thrilled. Or would it be in Syria’s interest to posture displeasure? A multinational force lead by France, who leads the European condemnation of Israel, and supplemented by Turkish and Indonesian forces whose governments have shown themselves more than a little sympatric to the Islamist sway in their own countries could hardly be counted on to neutralize Hezbollah, though, it probably could be counted on to effectively neuter Israel’s right to act in self-defense against Hezbollah aggression. Potentially, it could be raining Katyushas on Haifa indefinitely while Israel can do no more than file complaints with the UN.
But here’s another thought - the IDF deterrence factor has never been so low as it is now. The Israeli military censors are operating in a state of high efficiency. Not even a single sign of clear cut victory for Israel has emerged from the fog of war which can only give aid and comfort to those nations who are belligerent to Israel. Furthermore, one can take a town in a hard won battle and bury 1000 enemy dead, but if the flow of rockets continues to fall unabated in Haifa and almost a million people lives in the northern Israel are still held for ransom by the barrage - it’s a hollow triumph that rings false notes. Israel is definitely the loser in the international PR forum with more hands turned against Israel than extended in support.
Israeli political leadership has never shown itself as ineffectual as it is now. Olmert may talk a good speech but his actions belie his words. Resolute he is not. Neither Olmert nor the Defense Minister has ever held a senior rank in the IDF and have little experience at the type of mission planning needed in a time of war. Don’t kid yourself. These guys would have lost the Six Days War. Never before has the General Chief of Staff been held by an IAF general which is no doubt where the over reliance on air power comes from and has shown itself to be a somewhat unreliable tool to an early victory. I would go so far as to say that it has morphed full blown PR nightmare of epic proportions.
Furthermore, reports of mysterious stomach aliments that have been plaguing General Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, just don’t project the Lion in Battle motif one often associates with the IDF General.
In fact, Israel has never shown itself to be weaker or more vulnerable than it is right now.