Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have some explaining to do.
On Sunday, Israel was invaded along its border with Syria. More than 100 Syrians successfully infiltrated the country and rioted violently in Majdal Shams for several hours.
The IDF was reportedly surprised by these events. It was more prepared for violent riots along the borders with Lebanon and Gaza. And security forces were deployed more or less effectively in Jerusalem, the Galilee, the Negev, Judea and Samaria on Sunday.
Jerusalem, a focal point of the unrest since Friday, witnessed rioting in several Arab neighborhoods, which reached its peak with an assault on Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus.
But the government and the IDF were surprised by the invasion from Syria.
What can possibly explain this surprise? And what does it tell us about the defense establishment’s ability to cope with the swiftly expanding and changing threats facing Israel?
Before we consider that issue, we need to understand the nature of the new assault now underway.
Sunday’s events were fully anticipated. In 1998, at the height of the so-called peace process, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and PLO/Fatah chieftan Yasser Arafat invented a new Palestinian holiday – the Nakba.
That year, for the first time, Arabs in Judea, Samaria and Gaza rioted on May 15 – the secular date of Israel’s establishment in 1948. The purpose of Israel’s “peace partner’s” initiative was to escalate anti-Israel sentiments of Arabs on both sides of the 1949 armistice lines. And indeed, the next year, for the first time, the Nakba – or catastrophe – of Israel’s birth on May 15, 1948 was marked by Israel’s Arab citizens.
In the years since, the Palestinians and their brethren throughout the Arab world have consistently escalated their May 15 attacks, with anti-Israel mass demonstrations now common fare throughout the Arab world.
In recent months, Hamas and Fatah have been ratcheting up their incitement and calling for their followers to descend on Jerusalem on May 15. Millions worldwide participated in social media campaigns calling for a third Palestinian intifada to begin on May 15.
Regionally, in recent weeks, as Syrian anti-regime protesters have escalated their calls to overthrow the Assad regime, Hezbollah and the Syrian media have been joining the Nakba incitement efforts. In Egypt as well, as the Muslim Brotherhood consolidates its power, the calls for invading Israel and avenging the Nakba have escalated daily.
Politically, the Nakba campaigns couldn’t be an easier target for an Israeli information counteroffensive.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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