No one can say Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backs down from a fight. The leader looking for reelection let two old foes know that if they want to start something with Israel, he'd be happy to finish it.
Israel entered the Syrian conflict for the first time on Sunday after a Syrian mortar found its way across the border and landed at a Israeli military outpost. Israel responded by firing a warning missile into Syria. An army spokesman was pretty understanding about the whole thing. "We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation," he said. Syrian rebels, who just agreed to form a new unified organization, captured an outpost along the Israeli border. Bibi's worried the fighting will spill into the Golan Heights, so he told his cabinet he's "closely monitoring" what happens. And, just for good measure, Israel told the U.N. that any fire from Syria "will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity." Bibi essentially told Assad, "try me."
Elsewhere, the fighting between Israel and Hamas is getting particularly intense on the Gaza strip. A tunnel packed with explosives under the Gaza-Israel frontier blew up on Thursday, and fighting has been increasing every day since. Netanyahu isn't backing down from pressure to end the fighting. He's charging forward and promising they will come back even stronger. "The world must understand that Israel will not sit idly in the face of attempts to attack us. We are prepared to intensify the response," he said. Hamas even called Netanyahu out for election year pandering, saying they, "will not let Palestinian blood be a price for Israeli political and electoral gains."
Whether the fighting will escalate to a point that Netanyahu will be forced to back up his posturing remains to be seen. But there seems to be some worry that, on at least one front, he will be forced to act sooner than later.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.