TEL AVIV—These are uneasy days for citizens of Israel. Almost everywhere, one hears anxious questions: Will there be war? How bad will it be? Should we prepare the bomb shelter at home? And what should we tell the children?
At the same time, though, routine life goes on despite recent tensions on the border with Syria. At most, they have meant inconveniences like canceling a planned family holiday for Shavuot, the Jewish holiday that takes place in about a week, because a top Israeli vacation spot in the Golan Heights recently came under rocket fire from Syria. (All the rockets missed their targets.) The prevalent view of the security establishment and media pundits has trickled down to the public: We are not yet at the cusp of an all-out war, but merely in the midst of a round of hostilities between Iran and Israel. Even the events of the early hours of Thursday—the rocket fire and then the Israeli retaliation—do not herald war so much as they portend exacerbated hostilities.
The situation resembles a match between heavyweight boxers in which neither can land a knockout blow. As the rounds drag on, no one can foresee how the fight will end. The Russian referee might stop the match, or perhaps one of the sides will understand that the damages being incurred are too heavy to bear. For now, at least, the bout goes on. Each of the heavyweights stands its ground: Iran remains determined to incorporate Syria into its sphere of influence, extending from Tehran to the Mediterranean. Israel, meanwhile, makes it abundantly clear that it does not intend to tolerate an Iranian military presence in Syria.