by Adam Gonn
Jerusalem Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- In view of a potential U.S. strike on Syria, Israel is closely monitoring the possibility of the Syrian retaliation attack against Israel, a staunch ally of the United States. So far, Israeli analysts consider such possibility as "low."
"If the U.S. attack is limited, the (Syrian) regime will also seek to contain the scale (of the conflict)," Prof. Eyal Zisser of Tel Aviv University told Xinhua on Wednesday. "Their main problem is with (Syrian) rebels, not with Israel or the United States."
Following an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian government last week, the U.S. government is considering a military intervention in the Arab country.
Since Syria lacks the capabilities to retaliate directly against the United States, some fear that it may seek vengeance on Israel, which is well within the range of Syrian missiles.
Some Israeli analysts, however, noted that Damascus hasn't retaliated any of Israeli attacks in the past. It is widely believed that Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, but Syria again hasn't retaliated it.
Israel has stated that it won't allow advanced missiles to be transferred to the Lebanese based Hezbollah organization via Syria. On at least two occasions, Israel has conducted airstrikes on such shipments inside Syria, without the Syrian retaliating.
"So it's better for (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad to restrain like he did, when Israel attacked several times during the last years. The reading is that the U.S. attack will be limited and that there won't be a response from Syria, clearly not an effort to involve Israel or to engage in a battle with Israel," said Zisser.
Prof. Meir Zamir with Ben-Gurion University of Negev said that many believe the Syrian government will not retaliate directly, but instead may use some kind of a "proxy," such as a Palestinian organization or the Lebanese Hezbollah, to conduct retaliating acts.
"The only problem is that when you start a war, you never know what might develop. It very much depends on the U.S. attack," Zamir said.
If the U.S. strike on Syria is "limited" and conducted in a way that the Syrian government doesn't see as endangering its existence, then the Assad regime may choose to "ignore" it, just like they did in the past, said Zamir.
The Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned the Syrians that if they attack Israel, Israel will rspond with force.
The U.S. government has been criticized a lot concerning the Syrian crisis: some blame it for not doing enough to end the crisis; others argue that following the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans should be very reluctant to get involved in another Middle East conflict.
Should the war occur, the United States would face a dilemma: which targets should they strike against, targets that would be significant enough so that they don't look weak, but not severe enough for the Syrians to seek retaliation?
Zamir cautioned that the problem is "the unexpected, things that you can't really control."
For example, while it might from an American perspective seem " perfectly reasonable" to strike an airport or the Syrian air forces bases, Syria's Assad regime might see it as attack on the very units that allow it to maintain a military advantage over the rebels, and from there the situation might get out of hand.