Israeli War of Independence/ "al-Nakba" (The Disaster) (1948-1949)--Upon independence,
Israel was invaded by the armies of six Arab nations: Egypt, Syria, Transjordan (later
Jordan), Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. In addition, local Arab Palestinian forces
also fought the Jewish Israelis. Israel held off the Arab forces and established
itself as an independent nation. From the start of this war, Syria and Israel have
been engaged in one continuous legal state of war. While technically at war this
whole time, in reality, their conflict has been punctuated by several major (though
short), wars and numerous cross-border attacks and air battles.
Israeli-Syrian Border and Air Battle (Nov. 13, 1964)—Israel and Syria both claimed
sovereignty over several Demilitarized Zones along their border. These Zones were
set up as part of the cease-fire ending the First Arab-Israeli War. Israel attempted
to farm the land in these Zones, while Syria developed a project to divert water
from the Jordan River, which Israel shared with both Syria and Jordan. Syrian forces
often fired on Israeli tractors attempting to farm the Zones, while Israel looked
for ways to interrupt the Syrian diversion project.
On Nov. 13, 1964, Syrian forces stationed on the top of the Golan Heights, a plateau
overlooking Israeli territory in the Jordan River valley, fired on Israeli tractors. Israeli
forces returned fire. Syrian artillery then targeted Israeli civilian villages. Israel
responded with air attacks on Syrian forces. This battle resulted in 4 Israeli dead
and 9 wounded. Syrian losses included two tanks and machines involved in the diversion
project. One result of this clash was Syria’s accelerated acquisition of more and
better Soviet-made fighter planes. (Oren, 2001).
Israeli-Syrian Border Battles (Summer, 1966)—Continued artillery and tank duels along
the Golan Heights front led to :
Israeli-Syrian Air Battle (July 7, 1966)—Responding to the continued fighting along
the border, Israeli planes attacked Syrian forces, resulting in the loss of one Syrian
MiG fighter plane.
Israeli-Syrian Air/Sea Battle (Aug. 15, 1966)—After an Israeli patrol boat ran aground
on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (according to the 1949 cease-fire agreement,
Israeli forces were not supposed to approach within 250 meters of the eastern shore,
which was a Demilitarized Zone), Syrian planes attacked it. Israel responded, shooting
down two MiG planes.
The Six-Day War (1967)--In a rapid pre-emptive attack, Israel crushed the military
forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria and seized large amounts of land from each. Iraq
also participated in the fighting on the Arab side. This war resulted in Israeli
occupation of Syria's Golan Heights region, which continues to the present.
The Yom Kippur (Ramadan) War (1973)--In a surprise attack launched on the Jewish
Yom Kippur holiday (the dates also fell on the Muslim Ramadan holiday), Egypt and
Syria attacked Israel. Despite aid from Iraq, the Arab forces failed to defeat Israel.
The Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (1982-1984)--In response to repeated guerrilla attacks
by the PLO, which were launched from South Lebanon, Israel invaded with the intent
of destroying Arafat's forces. Syria, which maintained a large army in Lebanon, fought
Israel and suffered an embarrassing defeat. See The Israeli-Lebanon Conflict (1978-Present).
Israeli Air Strike on Syria (October, 2003)-- Israeli warplanes hit the Syrian village
of Ain al-Saheb, near Damascus.
Israeli Air Strike on Syria (Sept. 6, 2007)—Israeli warplanes overflew northern Syria,
dropping ordnance on a (publicly) unknown target. According to both the New York
Times and ABC News, the target was a nuclear facility being built with North Korean
aid and assistance. See War and Conflict Journal's article on this attack.
As of April, 2010, tensions between Syria and Israel were rising, with Israeli sources
indicating that Syria was transferring powerful Scud missiles to the Hezbollah Islamist
militia in Lebanon. See an interesting article about the possible ramifications of
this development toward a possible new Israel-Syria war at Plotting the Next Mideast
Nakba Day Border Incidents-on May 15 and June 5, 2011, Palestinian demonstrators
demostrated on the Syrian-Israeli border, and attempted to cross the border into
Israel. Israeli security forces opened fire, killing several of the protestors. Syria
claimed up to 23 were killed and hundreds wounded in the June 5 incident. Israel
accused Syria of planning and instigating the incident to draw attention away from
Syria's civil war.
Golan Heights Tensions (2012)--With the increasing violence of the Syrian Civil War,
The appearance on November 3, 2012, of three Syrian tanks in the demilitarized zone
near the UNDOF buffer in violation of the cease-fire agreement raised tensions.
Israeli-Syrian Fighting Along Golan Border (2012)
November 11, 2012, in the midst of a battle between Syrian government forces and
rebels, the Syrian army fired a mortar shell that landed near an Israeli Defense
Forces (IDF) outpost at Tel Hazeka in the Golan Heights. The Israeli forces then
fired back into Syrian territory. This marks the first time since the conclusion
of the 1973 Yom Kippur/Ramadan War that Israel has fire into Syria from their positions
in the Golan Heights.
November 12, 2012-- In response to another artillery round from Syria which landed
near an Israeli post, Israeli tanks fired back, making a direct hit on the Syrian
artillery units that fired into Israeli--held Golan territory.
January 30, 2013--Israel launched air strikes into Syrian territory. Among the targets
were a convoy believed to be transferring arms from Syria to Hezbollah, and Scientific
Studies and Research Center in Jamarya northwest of Damascus, which was believed
to be a biological weapons research center. The Israeli planes entered Syrian airspace
near Mt. Hermon, flying in low at dawn to avoid radar detection.
May 3, 2013--Israel launched air strike into Syria from Lebanese airspace, using
the Israeli Air Force’s “stand off” bombs, capable of covering large distances, enabling
Israel to take out a target inside Syira without actually entering Syrian territory.
The target was believed to be a shipment of advanced missiles on its way into Lebanon
for Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shi'ite militia is an active participant in the Syrian
Civil War on the side of Assad regime.
May 5, 2013--Israel launched the second air strike in three days on the night of
Sunday, May 5, 2013. The target was apparently a shipment of Fateh-110 missiles,
which are Iranian-produced missiles with precise guidance systems and aiming ability
superior to anything Hezbollah currently has its arsenal. The air strike occurred
in Damascus, causing multiple explosions.
Sources and Links:
Tensions spike after new Israeli strikes in Syria--USA Today, May 5, 2013
Israel launches air strike on Syria--The Telegraph, May 4, 2013