According to Moshe Yaalon Israel’s military policy successfully deterring ISIL: Why is Israel going easy on ISIL?
As a follow up to his revelation that ISIL apologized to Israel for launching rockets into the Golan,1 former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon has commented further on the matter. He claims that Israel’s policy of militarily responding to any cross border rocket or mortar strikes emanating from Syrian territory, whether intentional or not, with the exception of those ‘accidentally’ done by ISIL, has succeeded in deterring ISIL from attacking Israel.
“Generally speaking, both ISIS in Syria and ISIS in Sinai have been deterred [this way] by the Israeli Defense Forces. … They appreciate our military superiority. … So we absorbed one, a single attack executed by ISIS elements on the Syrian border, [it was] isolated. As we understand, it was done by mistake and it was only one.”
I find these comments rather odd. Why would ISIL appreciate Israel’s “military superiority” when it does not seem to be intimidated by the military superiority of countries like Iran, Russia, Turkey and the US among others? Why is it that Israel will show forbearance when dealing with ISIL, yet have no tolerance when dealing with the Syrian regime?3
I think the answers to such questions are clear and potentially uncomfortable to many. Israel is forbearing towards ISIL because they currently do not see the latter as a threat, but instead as a useful military counterbalance to Iran, Hezbollah and Assad.
While in Moscow current Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman “said that Israel would not stand for Iranian or Hizballah concentrating military forces on the Syrian-Israeli border.”4 Who stands in the way of Iran or Hezbollah occupying Syrian territory bordering Israel? Sunni jihadi groups like ISIL and Jabat al-Nusra.
So when Israel did not retaliate against ISIL’s accidental cross border attack, it was not because they were so understanding and wanted to avoid a further escalation of the situation. It was because retaliating would weaken ISIL’s ability to resist Hezbollah and pro-Assad Shiite militias in the region.
Now why would ISIL be so cowed by Israel’s “military superiority”? As much as ISIL hates the Jews, they equally hate the Shiites. For now their immediate objective is dealing with the latter, and being on good terms with Israel will facilitate them in accomplishing this objective. So ISIL is attempting to remain on good terms with Israel, but eventually this status quo will change and ISIL, if they are still around and have the power to do so, will have a go at Israel.
I still do not believe that ISIL was created by Israel or that Israel is giving direct orders to ISIL, however it is becoming increasingly clear that the two have some type of mutually beneficial relationship, possibly a “tacit alliance” as PressTV calls it. This may be difficult for many to accept. While some blindly hate Israel, others appear to blindly support it, seemingly believing that it can do no wrong, either because it is the only outpost of liberal democracy in the Middle East or because the Jews are the chosen people of God.
But while Israel may be a liberal democracy and the Jews the chosen people of God, that does not mean they are beyond reproach. Like any other group of people, Israelis are capable of good and bad, and it is clear that Israel as a nation, particularly under Benjamin Netanyahu, is chiefly concerned with their own national survival and not the survival or welfare of other nations.
This national self interest explains why Israel is behaving the way it is towards ISIL. They could care less that ISIL is butchering people throughout the Middle East as long as they don’t do it within Israel and as long as they keep fighting the Shiites.
 Israel has launched numerous military strikes against Hezbollah and Iranian targets within Syria during the course of the Syrian Civil War. The most recent confirmed Israeli strike in Syria happened a few days ago which targeted a pro-Assad militia, while it is suspected that a few hours ago Israel struck Damascus airport. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/world/middleeast/syria-says-it-was-hit-by-strikes-from-israeli-planes.html , http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/188343 , https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/report-israel-strikes-target-in-syria/415446/ , http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/110420161 , https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/30/israeli-airstrikes-hit-damascus-outskirts-syrian-reports-say , https://www.ft.com/content/8d08632a-bc65-11e6-8b45-b8b81dd5d080 , http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/01/13/syria-says-israeli-airstrikes-land-near-airport-west-damascus.html , http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/03/israel-carries-air-strikes-syria-170317070831903.html , http://www.timesofisrael.com/syrian-rebels-report-fresh-israeli-airstrikes-near-damascus/ , https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-17/syria-retaliates-against-israeli-airstrikes-as-tensions-escalate , http://www.businessinsider.com/syria-threatens-scud-missile-strikes-israeli-airstrikes-2017-3 , http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/04/deadly-israeli-strikes-hit-syria-quneitra-province-170423055729975.html , https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-reports-israel-air-raid-strikes-damascus-international-airport/#14932693242101&66445::resize_frame|244-695