Syria has never been Israel's friend.
The day Ben Gurion struck the table with his gavel and declared, "The State of Israel has been established", that same day, May 14th 1948, the armies of Syria, Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, Iraq and Egypt swept across the border into tiny Israel.
The 650,000 strong Jewish community managed to field 108,000 fighters, men, women and children.
The grueling war that ensued, the War of Independence, ended with Israel expelling Syrian and Lebanese armies from the north and Egyptians from the south. Iraqis and Jordanians left the country themselves.
Since that rocky beginning, a very 'cold war' might express Syria's relationship with Israel until the beginning of the 1960's when tension mounted over Israel's plan to build a national water carrier that would convey Israel's share of the headwaters of the Jordan River to the Negev.
[A tentative agreement over fair distribution of the waters of the Jordan had been brokered in 1955 by an American businessman, Eric Johnston, but the Arab states refused to ratify it.]
To make use of their allotted share of Jordan's water, Israel started to build a water carrier in the Hula Valley, but Syrian shelling from the Golan Heights put an end to the endeavor.
Israel decided their national water carrier would begin at the Sea of Galilee, which meant pumping the water 212 meters up to sea level. When the work was finally completed in 1964 the Arabs retaliated with a plan to divert the headwaters of the Jordan from Lebanon through Syria to Jordan, leaving Israel high and dry.
Prime Minister Golda Meir declared that "water is blood in the Middle East", and ordered the IDF to blow up the Syrian installations for the diversion of the Jordan River. Tensions between Israel and Syria escalated to a new height, and Syrian artillery fired on Israeli settlements in the Hula Valley and the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee dozens of times each month.
This unbearable provocation sent Israeli fighter planes, April 1967, to bomb targets in Syria. In the ensuing aerial dog fight Israel shot down six Syrian MiGs.
Because Syria and Egypt had an agreement to help each other in the event of an Israeli attack, the Soviet Union began feeding false information to Syria and Egypt, claiming that Israel was about to attack Syria.
These were the rumblings of the June 1967 Six Day War and Jews all over the world were beseeching God for mercy.
Egypt began to amass 130,000 troops in the Sinai to attack Israel from the south, but Israel swooped down on Egyptian air bases, destroying 304 of their 419 planes.
In response Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi planes attacked Israel, mostly missing their targets, and Israel attacked Jordanian and Syrian air bases until it controlled the skies.
The Syrians, seeing the way the battle was going, sent four tanks down the slope of the Banias plateau towards the source of the Dan River. One overturned, one fell into the Banias river canyon, and the third caught fire. The fourth decided to withdraw.
Israeli forces then broke through the Syrian defenses on the Golan and took the heights, putting an end to the intolerable shelling of civilian settlements and hastening the end of that Six Day War.
The chances of Israel overcoming those five nations a second time were slim when you consider the balance of power. Put together, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq held 1,719,000 sq km. of land and over 120,000,000 souls. Israel
19,000 sq. km. of land and about 3,000,000 souls.
But the God of Israel turned back the enemy at the gates and Israel gained a few thousand square kilometers of land in the process.
For Israel's enemies the humiliation of losing not just the war but territory also kept smoldering fires burning on all Israel's borders, not least on the Syrian border.
Yom Kippur, October 5th, 1973, Israel's most solemn day of prayer and fasting when a minimum of regular soldiers were on duty, 45,000 Syrian soldiers with 500 tanks broke through the Israeli lines on the Golan. At the same time Israel was attacked by 100,000 Egyptian troops in the south.
Israeli reservists were torn from synagogues and raced to the front lines, but Syrian advance forces had reached the center of the Golan and were ready to break into Israel.
All air force protection was first given to the Golan to stop the attack there, and Israel pushed Syria back to the 1967 ceasefire lines before turning to the south.
Though shocked and shaken, Israel held their ground, won the war, and mourned their dead.
By this time the Arabs realized they would not be able to defeat Israel on a conventional battlefield.
Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.
Syria turned to terrorism. Not overtly, but 'hiding behind the scenes'. The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and radical Islamic forces in Lebanon served Syria's purpose well, and 2 intifadas and 2 Lebanese wars followed with Syria, backed by Iran, supplying weapons and missile technology.
Through all this Syria, as the trouble maker, was more or less able to hold a 'Who? Me?' stance until her own civil war broke out in 2011.
This bitter war has exposed the Syrian disposition.
When Assad's military forces began to fire on his own people, we well remember their early cry: "Don't fire on us, fire on Israel!"
'Rebel' is no doubt an appropriate term for the forces seeking to topple Assad's government, but their rebellion is obviously against more than their own leader, through their Islamic ideology it is a deep-seated rebellion against God and His purposes, and it is certainly a rebellion against the existence of Israel.
What is even more alarming is that rebels attract rebels, and reports are increasing that Syria's rebels are now being joined by discontents from al-Qaeda and other Jihadi groups.
Helping the 'rebel' side, as NATO did to topple Gaddafi's regime, sounds reasonable when the opposition is a ruthless dictator. But Libya's 'rebels', now in possession of stockpiles of Gaddafi's weapons, have been making them readily available to the terrorist groups of Gaza.
No doubt Syria's 'rebels' would be inclined to do the same with the rumored stockpiles of chemical weapons in nobody-knows-quite-whose-hands.
The 'rebels' who ousted Mubarak in Egypt are certainly controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, if not constituted by them, so Syria's 'rebels' are probably up for grabs too, by whatever well organized group can harnesses their forces first, with the undercover aim of "pushing Israel into the sea".
No doubt this is why Israel cannot tolerate the free movement of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, weapons flown in from Iran, with-love-from-Russia, to be directed into the hands of Hezbollah...or whoever.
With the free-for-all in Syria at this present time Israel simply wanted those arms removed from the scene, and this month quietly bombed two ammunition depots in Syria, just north of Damascus. This is the second Israeli strike on a Syrian arms target this year. In January Israel bombed a weapons convoy carrying long range missiles to the Lebanese border and warned then that it would not hesitate to act again to prevent the transfer of chemical or any other advanced weaponry from Bashar al-Assad's massive arsenal to terror groups in Lebanon.
While Syria is hardly in a position to fight anyone outside her borders at the moment, with more than 70,000 of their own dead from their own fire in the last two years, since this recent bombing she has taken the time to place missiles towards Israel along her border fences, and the IDF is watching closely, while excusing the few that have come into the Golan in recent days as 'a mistake'.
An editorial in the London based 'Ai-Quds al-Arabi' newspaper has welcomed Syria's statements that it is planning to open up a new front against Israel in the Golan.
"We say that opening this front will push hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians and Arabs in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan to take up arms again to face the occupation on any front that is opened for them."
Assad has also resorted to threatening Israel by saying Syria is willing to co-operate even more closely with Hezbollah,
"We have decided to give them everything."
In response Hezbollah's leader, Nasrallah, has said his forces would support any Syrian effort to recapture the Golan Heights.
Syria could well decide to take advantage of the Israeli airstrikes to shift the focus from her civil war to a conflict with Israel. A common enemy makes friends, and certainly both sides of the Syrian rift share an aversion to Israel!
If this were not a drama of real life we could light heartedly say, 'Wait for the next episode', but for those of us living in Israel 'Waiting on the Lord' is far more appropriate, for God has spoken much about Syria in His Word.
After all, Syria's aversion to Israel goes back further than modern history! The reason the prophet Jonah was so reluctant to take God's message to Nineveh was that Assyria was a very cruel enemy to Israel. How difficult it was for Jonah to offer God's mercy to a nation that had afflicted Israel for centuries. Yet when Jonah finally obeyed, Nineveh repented.
Syria may not be our friend yet, but then, Israel still has much to learn.
Isaiah the prophet has foretold of the day when Syria will be Israel's friend, together with Egypt.
In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria-a blessing in the midst of the land, whom the Lord of hosts shall bless saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."...Isaiah 19:23,24.
Amazing...Syria and Egypt our most troublesome nearby enemies, shall be our friends!
Looking back on the brief modern history we have recounted, doesn't it prove that the devil always tries to get in and spoil exactly what God has purposed?
By the way, in Hebrew 'waiting' on the Lord means 'trusting with confidence' that He will deliver, even when there is absolutely no sign of this happening.
For this reason so we are VERY grateful when we know your prayers are joining ours for our people and our neighbors!