Syrian Rockets Fired at Israel Are Part of Iran’s New Deterrence Policy

Recent events on the Syrian border express what Military Intelligence has described over the past two months as the establishment of a new deterrent. Iran has decided to act against any attack it attributes to Israel, whether against Iran or organizations linked to it in the Middle East. At around 5 A.M., members of a Shi’ite militia fired four rockets from Syria into Israel in the northern Golan Heights; an Iron Dome battery intercepted all four and there were no injuries or damage.

The assault, which Israel believes was carried out at Iran’s behest, isn’t much different from previous attempts by Shi’ite militias to fire rockets from southern Syria into the Golan. There were similar incidents in May 2018, and in January and September this year, but no rockets reached Israel and most were intercepted by Iron Dome.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 49

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 49Haaretz

The rocket fire in September was declared an Iranian response to an airstrike attributed to Israel against members of a Shi’ite militia in Iraq near the Al-Bukamal border crossing with Syria. The airstrike happened at the end of August, after a day when airstrikes took place in Syria as well (near the Israeli border) and in Lebanon (in Dahiyeh, the Shi’ite neighborhood in south Beirut).

But in recent years, many attacks have been attributed to Israel and the Iranians responded in only a few cases. This time, according to intelligence, it can be assumed that Iran has a sweeping policy: Every action has a reaction. So what was the explanation for the rockets before dawn Tuesday?

As of now, things aren’t completely clear; both Israel and Iran have remained silent. On Monday, the Israeli intelligence company ImageSat released satellite photos documenting what it calls the rapid construction of an Iranian base near the Al-Bukamal crossing.

There are also reports in the Arab media, of questionable credibility, of an incident at the beginning of the week in which a convoy of Shi’ite militias was struck in the desert in eastern Syria west of Deir Ezzor.

A photo released by a pro-Iranian militia in Iraq after it launched an attack near the Syrian border, August 2019.AFP

These incidents are happening against the backdrop of heightened preparedness by the Israeli military (which regularly moves Iron Dome batteries between southern and northern Israel), ongoing tension in the Gaza Strip (after the fighting with Islamic Jihad last week), intensive action by the Israel Air Force and a surprise drill declared Monday by the Northern Command. At the same time, Israel is in a political crisis as the time allotted to Kahol Lavan chief Benny Gantz to form a governing coalition draws to a close. This is a period when the dangers of mixing security and political considerations is higher than usual.