Barak Orders IDF Redeployment From North to Placate Syria
Following his decision to halt the refurbishing of the country’s gas masks, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is now redeploying the IDF away from the north, deeming war with Syria “unlikely.”
Barak ordered the redeployment from the Golan Heights following months of training exercises and a steady stream of rumors among Israelis that war with Syria would break out in the course of the summer months.
Maariv newspaper quoted Israeli defense officials claiming that, with the IDF’s decision to redeploy, Syria has also lowered its readiness for war. The officials refused to outline what steps Syria had taken, saying they were classified. Defense Minister Barak halted the refurbishing of the country’s gas masks last week for fear that Syria would see the step as a sign of war-preparation.
IDF standing army troops and reservists who are scheduled to engage in exercises and war games in the north will now be redirected to Israel’s south. Regularly stationed IDF forces will remain along the northern border at a full state of readiness.
Though IDF intelligence acknowledges that Syria continues to develop and improve its military capabilities, particularly long-range missiles and anti-aircraft weapons, leaks to Israel’s state-run media are conveying the message that war with Syria is now “unlikely.”
Hizbullah Rearmed and Ready
Barak warned on Monday that the Hizbullah terrorist group is rearming out of reach of UN peacekeepers, and now has more rockets than at the beginning of the Second Lebanon War. He also said that tensions between Israel and Syria were fading. Barak made the comments speaking before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.
As the architect of the unilateral Israeli retreat from the security zone in Lebanon seven years ago, Barak has been blamed by security experts for bringing about the Second Lebanon War.
Harsh Criticism From Opposition
Opposition members criticized Barak for lowering his guard on the Syrian border and said Israel must not be fooled by the superficial calm.
“To note that the Hizbullah has rearmed and at the same time claim that Syria is no longer a threat is like the man who jumps from a 21 floor building and at the 16th floor says 'So far so good',” said MK Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP), a Golan Heights resident.