Golan Heights: Israel backs Islamic fundamentalist groups against Damascus
by Pierre Balanian

The Israeli air force strikes Syrian army positions in response to a mortar shell. Tensions between Syria and the Jewish state along the borders in the Golan are growing. Local sources say Israel is directly involved in the conflict with air strikes, artillery shelling and supplying weapons to the mujahedeen.

Damascus (AsiaNews) - This morning, Israeli jets struck Syrian military positions in response to a mortar shell from Syrian territory that ​​fell on Israeli-controlled Golan Height.

An Israeli military spokesman the mortar fire was likely accidental spillover from "internal conflict in Syria". This was followed by claims that an Israeli plane and drone were shot down in southwestern Syria, which Israel strongly denied right away.

For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government Syria is behind the shelling the Golan, although, as in this case, the Syrian military does not seem to be involved. Yesterday's was the fourth incident in the past nine days.

Despite the truce following yesterday’s ceasefire, tensions remain high on the southern front, in the Quneitra area, close to Israel. Yesterday irregular Islamic Mujahedeen groups, who are fighting against the central government, sought to advance and occupy Syrian army positions. Syrian forces responded by shelling Tal Al Himariya, south of Hadar, and the surroundings of the Amal farms in the northern plains of Quneitra. Anti-government fighters travelling along the road that connects Tarnaja to Jabana el Khashab were also hit.

In this part of ​​the Syrian province of al Quneitra, near the Israeli-held Golan Heights, the Jewish state has opened a route for wounded Syrian mujahedeen to be treated in Israeli hospitals, Israel’s Channel 10 reported. Sources contacted by AsiaNews confirmed the information. A witness said that that so far at least 283 rebel fighters injured in attacks against regular Syrian troops were brought to Israel for medical treatment.

If confirmed, this figure would be much higher than the total number of injured taken to Israel for treatment for the whole of 2016.

In contrast, Syrian media whilst confirming the news of the transfer of wounded to the Jewish state, goes further and speaks of Israel’s open and unconditional support for anti-Syrian fighters. The help is said to go beyond rescuing the wounded, and includes intelligence and air reconnaissance, as well as "direct intervention with artillery shelling and air strikes."

The Syrian military has also accused Israel’s air force of recently striking Syrian artillery positions in Tal Ashaar in open support for Syrian rebels, in what they call the battle of the "Southern Qadissiya".

The historical reference here is to the battle of Al Qadissiya against Persia in the early years of the Islamic invasions, seen as the most important event in the history of Islam for the Islamisation of Iraq. The battle took place between 16 and November 19 636 A.D. and ended with a Muslim victory and the killing of the Persian commander Rustum Farkhazad.

According to Israel watcher Ghassan Muhammad, speaking on a Pan-Arab TV channel, "Israel is afraid of the success of Russian-American peace talks and of the possibility of reaching a political solution in Syria". This, he adds, would mean that Israel would end up losing "its instruments in the region and would fail to achieve its strategic objectives, which include the collapse of the Syrian state and the disintegration of the Syrian armed forces."

According to an Arab journalist, Husam Zaydan, who was present in the area of the clashes, Israeli military support for Syrian armed militias "in the back area of Quneitra is obvious." It goes to show the will to "revive the plan of a partition wall in Al Tayeb, in southern Syria."

On the evening of 11 September, thousands of people took to the streets in Majdal Shams, in the Israeli-held Golan Heights, to protest against the military, logistical and medical support by the Jewish state to the united armed groups who carried out a recent attack on Hadr against the Syrian army.

According to unconfirmed information, Israel has even delivered modern weapons and drones to anti-regime mujahedeen fighters.

Israel fears the creation of an opposition group near the Golan, a ​​1,200-km area it occupied in 1967 during the Six Day War, similar to the emergence of Hezbollah in South Lebanon during the years of Israeli occupation. This nightmare lasted years, until Israel was forced to withdraw from southern Lebanon without having, for the first time in its history, achieved a peace agreement in exchange for evacuated occupied territories.

Now the south Lebanon nightmare also haunts Israelis around the Golan.