This has already happened in the past. And it will probably happen again in the future.
The Islamic State has never declared that they have given up on their intention to attack the state of Israel, stated in their founding document some years ago.
However, the “Israeli enemy” was never at the top their list of targets, and any major confrontation was pushed off for some future time. In Israel, it was understood, though, that that did not mean there would not be incidents from time to time. Like the one that occurred near Nof in the southern Golan early Sunday.
Was it a deliberate ambush carried out by Islamic State terrorists against an IDF patrol as it went past? Not necessarily. There is no clear evidence one way or the other.
Actually, the incident could have occurred any time in the past several months, since Islamic State forces have been active all during that time in the area from which they fired the shots on Sunday. So why did it happen now? No one knows for sure. It could have been the decision by some junior officer on the spot, just as the terrorists may have just at that moment noticed the IDF patrol and decided to shoot.
Either way, the incident occurred. The terrorists arrived in an armored car with a heavy machine gun, very much in the style of Islamic State forces, with a mortar team behind them. At some point, an IS soldier opened fire on the Israelis.
B’chasdei Shamayim, no one was hit by the fire on the Israeli side. Abruptly, it became a two-sided incident, as machine gun and fire was loosed by both sides. The IDF patrol called in air support, and within a few minutes, air-to-ground missiles were fired at the Islamic State target. The terrorists attempted to flee, but it was too late. A salvo of missiles caught the armored car and destroyed it, killing the four terrorists riding in it.
The incident was, to be sure, a serious one. But neither the first nor the last of its kind. However, it is doubtful that at this juncture the Islamic State would seek out a confrontation with Israel, since it continues to be under attack from every direction. Therefore, the explanation that the incident was the result of a junior officer’s decision in the field and no more than that, is the most plausible.
Time will tell whether the situation on the northern border will change, or not. In any case, it will be incumbent on the IDF to be ready for it if it does come.