Few things seem to get Israeli officials planning as quickly as a US imprimatur to launch an attack. Having been given the green light not just for Wednesday’s attacks but for other, future attacks Israel is now said to be planning a dramatic escalation.
The new Israeli plan, under consideration by its leadership, calls not only for additional strikes inside Syria but a full-scale ground invasion across the Purple Line, seizing a 10 mile “buffer zone” on the other side of the line in which to install large numbers of Israeli troops and tanks.
Israel’s previous strikes targeted a military research facility as well as a military convoy parked at a base. The convoy reportedly had anti-aircraft missiles on board, which Israel feared would make its regular attacks on Lebanon much less convenient should they fall into Hezbollah’s hands.
The new strikes would center around a putative Iranian listening post, which Iran is apparently using to keep an eye on Israel, which has regularly threatened to attack them.
The “buffer zone” plan is likely to be far more controversial and potentially explosive, since Israel already has a de facto 10 mile buffer zone it seized in 1967, the Golan Heights. In the past half a century Israel has filled this zone with 20,000 settlers, and the new zone would inevitably look like another land grab.
An Israeli invasion might provoke action from Turkey as well, which condemned Israel’s last strikes and has talked about setting up its own “buffer zone” in the far north, hoping to house Syrian refugees inside of that region instead of inside Turkey itself.
US comments on Israel’s attack amounted to unequivocal endorsement of the strikes and any future strikes, but didn’t specify just how far they’re comfortable with Israel going. Since this plan is under consideration at all, it seems safe to say that the Obama Administration is comfortable with leaving the scope of the war up to Israel, which given its current government’s bellicosity will inevitably mean as broad a scope as possible.