Issue Papers

Israel Ups Golan Defenses as Syrian Rebels Issue Threat

- July 01, 2016

series of videos filmed by Syrian rebel fighters shows them closing in on the Israeli-Syrian border, firing rounds in the air and openly threatening to launch attacks against Israel.

“We are now in front of the occupied Golan, the blessed land sold by Hafez Assad…For 40 years, not a single gunshot has been fired on this land. For 40 years, not a single gunshot has been fired towards Israel….We will free the Golan and it will return to the free Syrian people, with the help of Allah,” the group’s representative told the camera.

One of the videos was symbolically shot at a United Nations sign demarcating the “Area of Separation” between Syria and Israel where “No Military Forces are allowed.” (sic)

Current president of the Security Council, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the security situation between Israel and Syria is also being compromised by “a very new and dangerous phenomenon,” armed groups operating out of the Golan Heights. The UN peacekeeping troops – the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) – patrol the area, but do not have jurisdiction to intervene.

Given this limited jurisdiction of U.N. peacekeepers on the Golan Heights, Israel is concerned by the approach of rebels towards the Israeli frontier.

“Unfortunately there is nothing in the UNDOF mandate that allows them or equips them to deal with that situation because they are unarmed observers,” noted Churkin.

Israel is attempting to guarantee the safety of workers who are constructing a new fence along the Syrian border.

The Israel Defense Forces fears the possibility of attacks similar to those that targeted building work on the recently-constructed fence between Israel and Egypt.

That, however, is not the only threat posed to Israel’s defenses. Jerusalem is closely watching Syria’s chemical-weapons arsenal. As Syria’s continues to grow increasingly unstable, Israel fears these arms could fall into the hands of Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda affiliates operating in Syria.

Israel has made clear it will not tolerate such a situation and has given warning that it will act if necessary. Foreign media reports have claimed Israel was behind the Jan. 29th attack on a convoy in Syria, aimed at preventing Iranian-backed Hezbollah from acquiring advanced SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles from the crumbling Assad regime.

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