Former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the Islamic State group apologised for firing on an Israeli military unit. The reference is bout an incident last November in the Golan Heights. Officially Israel is neutral in the Syrian conflict, but it has helped anti-Assad and anti-Iran groups, including Jihadis.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For years, media have reported extensively on contacts between Israel and the Islamic State (IS) group opposed to Syria’s Assad regime and Iran. However, for the first time, a former Israeli minister has confirmed the claims.
Speaking at a recent public event in the northern city of Afula, former Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that IS “apologised” for attacking an Israeli unit in the Syrian Golan Heights.
Contacted by various media, the office of the former minister and his aides refused to or clarify comment the statement but the latter gave credence to allegations that Israel and IS have been in contact.
What is certain are Ya’alon’s words. “There was one case recently where Daesh opened fire and apologized,” he said, using IS’s Arabic acronym.
This was an apparent reference to a clash that took place near the Syrian border last November, in which IDF troops exchanged fire with members of an IS affiliate. After a brief gun battle, the Israeli military attacked the terrorist group with airstrikes and tank fire.
Ya’alon was interviewed on stage a Channel 10 news journalist. His comment about the Islamic State’s apology was made as part of a broader point about Israel’s policy for Syria.
The latter is largely non-interventionist, but Israel has attacked Syrian ground-to-air missile systems in the past. And this morning, a missile strike hit a site near Damascus airport, ostensibly by Israel.
Officially, Israel and much of the Western world consider the IS affiliate in the Syrian Golan Heights, known as the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, to be a terrorist group. Communication with them is technically illegal under Israeli law, constituting contact with an enemy agent.
Nevertheless, the IS affiliate is an important player in the fight against the Assad regime and its main backer, Iran, Israel's historic enemy.
Ya’alon himself acknowledged that Israel has carried out strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in retaliation when spillover fire allegedly hits the Israeli Golan Heights.
This has led Syrian media to accuse Israel of directly aiding the Islamic State and other rebel groups. And such cooperation goes beyond just rescuing wounded IS fighters to include intelligence sharing, air monitoring, and direct shelling and air strikes.
Israel’s actions are motivated by fear that an opposition force might hold the area near the Golan Highland – some 1,200 square kilometres Israel occupied in 1967 in the Six-Day War – as Hezbollah did in southern Lebanon during the years of Israeli occupation.
This nightmare lasted for years, eventually forcing Israel for the first time to retreat from southern Lebanon without a peace deal in return for its evacuation.
Now the nightmare of southern Lebanon appears to be haunting Israel in the Golan.