Israeli military officials fear the escalating civil war in Syria may soon bring an end to the relative quiet along the 80 km border with Syria. Decades of anti-Israel aggression fostered by Syrian leaders Bashar Al-Assad and his late father Hafez combined with massive infiltration by jihadist fighters have increased the likelihood of terror attacks on what has essentially been Israel's most tranquil border.
Over the past months the explosions and gunfire on the Syrian side of the border have been heard clearly on an almost daily basis, and several artillery rounds fired from Syria have exploded in Israel – fortunately causing no serious injuries.
The war in Syria has been joined by thousands of terrorists from Al-Qaeda and jihadist groups from around the region. While their short-term goals are the overthrow of Assad and the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria, their long-term aims include holy war against Israel.
To counter the threat, Israel has reinforced its forces along the frontier and is feverishly working to complete a new border fence with advanced surveillance and alert features. Over the past few months the Israel Defense Forces apprehended six suspects in the area believed to be on reconnaissance missions.
“We're gearing for all scenarios in the sectors. The build-up is underway,” said the IDF’s Colonel Yehuda Fox, whose troops are moving into the area along the Israel-Syria border.
Another unknown parameter in the already complex equation is what authority – if any – the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), entrusted since 1973 with enforcing the Israel-Syria ceasefire, would retain. The collapse of the Damascus regime would leave the future UNDOF in doubt, and the U.N. force is carefully following developments.