Israel’s IDF has called up six reserve battalions as the situation on the Syrian and Egyptian borders deteriorates. The Knesset, the Israeli parliament, has given permission to call up an additional 16 reserve battalions if necessary, the Times of Israel reported on May 2.
“This signifies that the IDF regards the Egyptian and Syrian borders as the potential source of a greater threat than in the past,” said former deputy chief of staff, Dan Harel.
“The army needs a better ‘answer’ than in the past to the threat,” he added, mentioning Egypt’s loss of control over the Sinai.
The Egyptian daily al-Arabiya reports that since the end of January police located at Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula have been attacked approximately 50 times by armed Palestinian groups and what is described as a local branch of al-Qaeda.
Sheikh Zuwayed, central Sinai and Rafah are now out of control of the Egyptian military, according to Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm. Most of the attacks have occurred in the mountains of central Sinai and were carried out by Palestinian armed groups including Jaljalat, Army of Islam, Ezz Eddin al-Qassam Brigades and al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula.
“Sinai is now out of security control, and efforts exerted by the military and police forces have aimed to restore security, especially because a week ago Israel said Egypt is more dangerous to Israel than Iran, which the Jewish state accuses of trying to build nuclear weapons,” the security source told al-Masr al-Youm.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula is now a “kind of Wild West” for militants opposed to the Jewish state. Netanyahu and the Israeli government have accused Iran of aiding and abetting the unrest in the Sinai.
Despite Israel’s assertion that militants pose a threat in the Sinai, the real threat is between Israel and the military government in Egypt.
Strife inside Syria has caused tension along the border near the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria during the 1967 war.
Israel has also started to fortify a wall on the border with Lebanon. Israeli military officials told the Wall Street Journal that the construction was coordinated with the Lebanese army and the U.N. peacekeeping force in the region, UNIFIL.
Israel and Lebanon have been in a state of war for more than fifty years and do not share diplomatic relations.
In early April, Haaretz reported that the Israeli military was planning another invasion of Lebanon. “Almost six years after the Second Lebanon War, special Israeli units are preparing to take part in mass incursions into Lebanon if another round of fighting with Hezbollah breaks out,” the newspaper reported.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 resulted in at least 1,109 Lebanese deaths, the vast majority of whom were civilians. 4,399 were injured and an estimated 1 million were displaced during the invasion and fighting between the IDF and Hezbollah.
In the past, Israel has used border provocations to initiate military action against its Arab neighbors.
In the 1950s, Israel launched attacks inside Jordan and Syria in an effort to “provoke the Egyptians into retaliating against Israel – thus precipitating an Israeli-Egyptian war,” according to Israeli journalist Benny Morris (see Baylis Thomas, The Dark Side of Zionism: Israel’s Quest for Security Through Dominance).