Israel has in recent years carried out numerous targeted strikes against Hezbollah targets in the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war.
But the Jewish state has been careful to avoid actually being pulled into the conflagration.
Israeli military leaders on Friday vowed to intervene in defense of the Syrian Druze village of Hader, which lies a short distance over the border in the Golan Heights.
Hader has been aligned with the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad (the Druze are typically loyal to whichever party is in power), making it a target for all of the various rebel and Islamist groups participating in Syria’s civil war.
Earlier in the day, Hader was attacked by a suicide bomber from the jihadist group Al Nusra. Nine people were killed and another 23 injured.
IDF Brigadier General Ronen Manelis announced that the Israeli army was prepared to “prevent Hader from being harmed or occupied as part of our commitment to the Druze population.”
Such a commitment could very quickly bring Israeli forces into direct conflict with Al Nusra and other rebel groups.
The decision came just hours after a Druze resident of northern Israel was hit by stray gunfire from Syria. The victim is in stable condition.
The Druze residents of Israel consider themselves blood-brothers of the Jewish majority.