TEL AVIV — Israel’s decision last week to enforce just two of its three red lines driving deterrence at its northern border illustrates the challenging balancing act of maintaining those lines while preventing them from morphing into tripwires to wider war.
In the past eight days of April, Israel presumably acted repeatedly to buttress its first red line: prohibiting so-called game-changing arms from reaching the hands of Hezbollah via Syria or Iran.
As part of its policy of ambiguity, Israel neither confirmed nor denied Arab television reports of an April 22 strike on a Hezbollah convoy and multiple April 25 strikes at Syrian strategic missile bases near the Lebanon border.
It also acted to shore up its second red line: guarding against ambush or infiltration threats against Israeli forces or civilians.
Four militants were killed in an April 26 airstrike after infiltrating from Syria. They were planning, according to Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, to plant an improvised explosive device in the Golan Heights.
“Fortunately, the IDF disrupted the operation and avoided an escalation that could have further destabilized an already volatile region,” Prosor wrote in an April 28 letter to UN Secretary General Ben Ki-moon.
But despite its oft-stated third red line — zero tolerance for spillover fire from the Syrian civil war — Israel chose not to respond to mortar fire from Syria that struck Israel’s side of the border April 28.
Read More:Israel’s Northern Border Poses Challenges.