Late last week, the Israeli Defense Forces fired missiles against suspicious vehicles on Syrian territory, allegedly carrying munitions to the paramilitary wing of Hezbollah - Israel’s most bitter and aggressive enemy in the region. During the unexpected airstrike, one of the Israeli rockets razed to the ground a Syrian research center. Although still unclear whether Tel Aviv officials actually targeted the center actuated by some doubts about its illicit functioning for terrorist purposes, the incident elicited a vehement reaction from the government of al-Asad, Syria’s troubled president. Promising to retaliate against Israel for the bombings, Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faiz al-Mekdad declared the operation and act of war and vowed that his country will respond utilizing all available means.

While Israel’s actions certainly breach multiple stipulations of international law regulating the relations between countries, the permission of the Syrian government for Hezbollah-bound munitions to pass through the territory of its country are no more legitimate. In the wake of the attack it was revealed that the destroyed military research center was, too, a storage place for Iranian missiles, whose final destination appear to have been the hands of Hezbollah. Thus, the overreaction of Syrian officials and the bold statements about a possible retribution against Israel are, to say the least, out of place. Essentially, if al-Assad’s regime can facilitate terrorist operations against Israel and, by extension, wage a secret war, whose primary targets are often innocent civilians, why should Israel not be able to, without even targeting civilians, foil such plans and preemptively strike the supply lines of its enemies?

Syria’s reaction with surprise is hypocritical and its promises to take vengeance on Israel are absolutely outlandish and unnecessary. Cordons of munitions and the storage of any amount of Iranian missiles certainly did not happen without the knowledge of the al-Assad regime and, if they did, then Syria’s negligence is certainly not a good excuse that should hinder Israel from protecting its people. Retaliating against Israel sounds more like a threat from a comic cartoon than like any serious declaration from the stage of world politics. Considering the ongoing civil war which al-Assad’s regime has been trying to handle over the course of the last two years, any daunting statements about waging wars abroad seem quite flighty. For one, if al-Assad’s regime will try to overturn the tightening grip on its holdings by the opposition forces, it will certainly not be depleting its resources to engage the Israeli forces in a nonsensical fight. Second, combatting Israel would entail the withdrawal of troops from the battle lines at home and directing them toward the Israeli-Syrian border and most people know how “well” the two-front war worked out for Nazi Germany in the 1940’s. Therefore, considering the likely implication of al-Assad’s regime in the storage and transportation of Iranian supplies to suspect terrorist groups, the Syrian government, instead of audaciously vowing to fight Israel, should maybe reconsider its stance toward Iran and focus on the problems at home.

On the other hand, however, for the Syrian people a conflict between Israel and Syria could lift the veil to the resolution of another prolonged war: should al-Assad’s forces focus on fighting the Israeli army, the Syrian opposition might find it most opportune to advance into Damascus and overturn the current establishment. Unfortunately, however, such a denouement of the current situation is highly unlikely, for Syria’s dictatorship is not dumb and much like we realize that any hazardous move against Israel could trigger its complete debacle, so do Assad and his cohort, too.