Attack is sign that 'war may spill into Israel'

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 1, 2011

The firing of two Katyusha rockets from Lebanon into Israel this week served as a reminder that the growing Syrian civil war could boil over into neighbouring countries.

The rockets, which landed in a village in the Western Galilee on Monday night, did not cause any casualties and succeeded only in setting light to a gas storage unit.

Over five years since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Hizbollah has not fired a shot or a missile over the border. The handful of Katyusha launches in this period have all been the work of Palestinian splinter-groups.

The "Abdullah Azzam battalions", a Salafist group with Al-Qaeda ties, took responsibility for this week's attack.

In response, the IDF fired a salvo of artillery shells, but officers said that no further action is currently planned.

This week's rocket launch was the first in two years

The past five years have been the calmest period on the Israel-Lebanon border for nearly four decades. This week's attack was the first in two years. However, Hizbollah and Syria have a stockpile of 200,000 rockets capable of reaching targets in Israel and there is concern that the embattled Assad regime may provoke a conflict with Israel or use its Lebanese ally to divert international attention and pressure.

Experts are divided on the likelihood of such an outcome. While one Israeli intelligence analyst believes that "Assad is in so much trouble he knows that even a limited skirmish with Israel will finish him off," another fears that "with his back to the wall, he could do anything".

For now, the IDF is "closely monitoring the situation in Syria without intending to intervene in any way" as IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, said last week.

Last updated: 12:16pm, December 1 2011