Experts said the Syrian regime felt more confident after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem pledged that Syria will retake Golan Heights from Israel in his address to the UN General Assembly. By MAYA MARGIT/THE MEDIA LINE September 30, 2018 17:19 Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem addressed the UN General Assembly on Saturday with a […]
Syrian army warns Israel of “repercussions” if it attacks targets in Syria again.
The Syrian army on Wednesday warned Israel against attacking targets in Syria again, after Israeli forces attacked a Syrian military position in retaliation for a rocket from Syria hitting the Golan Heights.
The rocket was believed to be stray fire from fighting between the Syrian government forces and rebels.
In a statement quoted by the Syrian news agency SANA, the Syrian army said the Israeli attack destroyed one cannon and damaged another.
The statement warned Israeli against the repercussions of another such attack, and also reaffirmed its commitment to its fight against terrorist jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Al-Nusra Front, which it referred to as “Israel’s tools”.
The fighting in Syria has continuously spilled over to the Golan Heights, and the Israel Air Force has retaliated several times.
The Syrian army’s claim that jihadist groups in Syria are Israeli proxies is not new. Syria’s President, Bashar Al-Assad, recently claimed there is “no contradiction” between Israel and jihadist groups such as ISIS.
“Any terrorist who holds a machine gun and started killing and destroying in Syria was supported by Israel, either indirectly through the logistical support on the frontier, or sometimes by direct intervention by Israel against Syria in different areas in Syria,” he said in an interview.
Two years ago, Assad’s adviser claimed that Israel was sending fighters to help the rebels fighting to oust Assad.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Eli Ben-Meir, who retired from the IDF earlier this year after a three-decade army career that included stints as chief intelligence officer and head of the Military Intelligence Directorate’s Research and Analysis Division, said that the cyber attack that disrupted internet service on the US East Coast last week “was a reminder for those who needed one” about the dangers posed by hackers.
Ben-Meir, who currently works as a partner in a start-up company he co-founded that deals with cyber security at the state level, spoke by phone with The Algemeiner on Wednesday ahead of two US speaking tours he will be conducting in the coming months.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu often says he wants Israel to become a global cyber power. In your view, has it reached that point yet?
“I don’t know if the word power is the best, but I think Israel is one of the leading countries in, first of all, understanding that this is an existing threat — it’s not something to worry about in the future, it’s already here. It’s a wave of warfare that we are now in the middle of. And Israel is in the top-tier of countries, in terms of — under the prime minister’s directive — establishing organizations, structures, procedures and processes to defend ourselves in this new era. Also, of course, there is a lot of technology that is coming from Israel — I think 20% of cyber technology in the world today is from Israel. The bottom line is a lot of people in Israel are getting up every morning and dealing only with cyber.”
How have new cyber capabilities affected the way the IDF operates?
“I won’t speak about specific capabilities, but the IDF is leading a lot of technology development efforts. Also, a lot of people who serve in the IDF leave it with much experience and knowledge of cutting-edge technology and go to private-sector companies where this knowledge is used to advance a lot of what’s going on. So this is an engine for the cyber industry in Israel.”
How do you foresee technology affecting the future of warfare? Do you think there will always be a need for soldiers on the ground?
“It’s a big debate. I don’t know if anybody knows. But I think it is interesting to look at the emergence of virtual cyber warfare. This is a relatively new phenomenon. The first known cyber attack carried out by a country was Russia against Georgia in 2008. We are now seeing countries more and more using cyber as a means of warfare. And even if a country is attacked by military means, the retaliation is sometimes a cyber one. When Turkey shot down a Russian Air Force plane last year, what did the Russians do? There were political sanctions and pressure, and also — almost immediately after the incident — the Russians hacked Turkish government sites.”
“I don’t think you can say that we don’t need armies anymore, because you need them to conquer territory, but for sure, warfare by cyber means can cause a lot of damage. Hackers can shut down facilities and national infrastructure. And countries are now losing between 0.5%-2% of their GDPs every year due to cyber attacks.”
How did technology change the way intelligence was gathered over the course of your military career?
“I think we can say the means of gathering intelligence have changed dramatically, not only in the IDF but also the world in general. Still, some of the good old ways — like HUMINT (human intelligence) — are still very relevant, but technology now enables you and provides advantages to the collection of information by other means, and cyber is one of the biggest ways to do so.”
What is the greatest strategic threat facing Israel right now?
“Today, I think one of the biggest problems facing, for sure Israel, but also many other countries, including the US, is not military-against-military battles, but rather small-scale clashes with terrorist groups. And the new phenomenon is terrorist groups that control territory — such as ISIS and Boko Haram, among others. Some already operate like countries — with ministers, offices and the like. But still the means they use are terror against civilians.”
“And this leads to something that is not as discussed as it should be, which is that boundaries don’t matter anymore. Borders between countries, certainly in the Middle East, don’t exist. Just look at Syria, Libya and Yemen. Old borders established a century or more ago — such as the ones set by the Sykes-Picot Agreement – are losing their importance.”
“In today’s virtual world with social media, ISIS can reach someone on Philadelphia. They don’t have to be there, they have a means of influencing them — the internet. And this means that a lot of what we used to do from an intelligence perspective, and also from an operational perspective, is not relevant anymore. There is a lot the Western world must do to deal with this new situation.”
Does ISIS pose a major threat to Israel?
“I don’t want to say it’s a major threat. A terrorist organization, however strong it is and ISIS has been suffering losses recently, cannot defeat Israel. Israel is a very strong nation with a powerful military force. But there are ISIS-affiliated groups on our borders in the southern part of the Golan Heights and in the Sinai Peninsula. So there is a threat these groups will conduct terrorist attacks and cause casualties among Israelis. And the other threat is posed by ISIS’ attempts to influence Muslims in Israel and get them to commit terrorist attacks. But this is not happening in big numbers. It is something that is dangerous and bothers us, but it is not a strategic threat to Israel.”
Does Israel face any existential threats at the moment?
“The Iranian nuclear threat is real, although I don’t want to go into whether the international agreement was good or bad. What is relevant now is Iran’s military buildup because of the money it has been getting. And Iran’s support of terrorism has only increased, it didn’t stop that. Also, Iran’s surface-to-surface missile capabilities have gotten stronger. Perhaps more importantly, Iran’s growing involvement in Syria and Lebanon is very problematic. Finally, while Iran may not be doing all it can now to achieve nuclear weapons capabilities, in ten years it will be allowed to. And this is something that Israel should already be concerned about now. We shouldn’t wait ten years.”
“Terrorism is another threat. While Hezbollah and Hamas — like ISIS — cannot beat Israel, they can cause a lot of casualties and economic damage.”
“Also, cyber warfare is a growing threat, although Israel is already doing a lot of things I would suggest other countries should also do. But we are particularly threatened because we are surrounded by different countries, entities and groups that have an interest in attacking us.”
How has the Syrian civil war impacted Israel’s security? And how do you see the situation in Syria playing out?
“An egg from which you make an omelet cannot be remade into an egg, it’s an omelet already. So I think Syria cannot re-become the Syria we knew five or six years ago, which had its problems but was a relatively stable state with a dominant leader and you knew what was going on. Even if Bashar Assad stays in power, it’s not going to be the same Syria it was, which will of course have implications. If ISIS or other terrorists ended up controlling all of Syria, this would be a big problem for Israel. But right now, it doesn’t look like things are going that way. With the involvement of Russia and Iran, it seems like we will continue seeing Syria broken down into cantons and small sectarian and tribal areas.”
“For Israel, the activities of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria are the most worrying thing. Iran is sending more and more personnel, fighting means and money. And Hezbollah is almost up to its head in Syria. And some Hezbollah members are on our border in the Golan Heights and that is a troubling threat to Israel that needs to be continuously monitored.”
“Also, the use of chemical warfare in Syria is becoming almost a day-to-day thing. And my personal fear is that the more chemical agents are used and the more nobody does anything about it, the more it’s going to become acceptable, which is very disturbing. Five years ago, nobody would have believed this could happen, but it’s happening.”
Do you think the time is ripe for Israel to bolster its relations with Sunni Arab states in the region?
“There are opportunities in the moderate Sunni world, because having common enemies makes us friends. So I think there is potential for cooperation. Also, although they can’t say it openly, everybody understands the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the biggest problem in the region. Maybe not everybody, because apparently UNESCO still thinks that, but everyone who understands something knows the truth. All moderate Arab leaders see that the biggest problems today are Salafi terrorism and Iranian influence.”
From a military standpoint, is the status quo in the West Bank sustainable?
“There is ongoing cooperation and a joint security interest with the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians don’t want terrorist attacks because of their potential impact and we, of course, don’t want attacks to occur. So the interest is still the same, but the most significant problem is that the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, is not getting any younger, as all of us aren’t, and what will happen the day after he leaves the scene is a very, very big mystery. Will his successor be able to stabilize the area? Will he be able to deliver something? Will he carry on the joint security cooperation? These are big questions. And there are even scenarios in which Hamas could take over the West Bank.”
In Gaza, do you think the situation will ever change or is Israel fated to deal with Hamas for the foreseeable future with military flare-ups every few years?
“First of all, Hamas is continuing to build itself up militarily. So there is an intent on its part to develop its capabilities, because if not, it would put its money into something else. Hamas is continuing to try to procure arms, dig tunnels and manufacture rockets for offensive purposes. I do think Hamas is still deterred from the last operation two years ago [Israel’s Operation Protective Edge]. It’s a big stick above their head. So Hamas’ interest today is to not see another escalation in the near future. And the border with Egypt is also closed, which is hurting their force build-up effort. They are having a hard time smuggling in arms and people.”
“But I can’t say how long this Israeli deterrence will last. It has to do with a lot of factors, some related to Israel and Egypt and some not. When Hamas looks around, it sees that the Muslim Brotherhood has been put back in the box in the region in the last year and a half or so. So while a few years ago, Hamas may have seen a window of opportunity with the Muslim Brotherhood leading countries and growing stronger, today it understands this is no longer the case. So Hamas is not in the best position now.”
“While Hamas might not want a new war with Israel, the problem is when you play with matches, something can catch fire. And there are a lot of things happening on the Gaza border. Think of a scenario in which one of these small Salafi groups fires a rocket at Sderot and it doesn’t hit an open area, but instead causes casualties and we retaliate. The situation could escalate very fast, even if it is not in Hamas’ interest.”
For four days since July 25, the Syrian army has been continuously firing artillery batteries – moved close to Israel’s defense lines on the Golan border – in a manner that comes dangerously close to provoking an Israeli response. This carefully orchestrated Syrian campaign goes on around the clock.
It is the first time in the six years of the Syrian war that Bashar Assad has ventured to come near to provoking Israel. But now he appears to be emboldened by his Russian ally.
The IDF is holding its fire for the moment. But Israeli military and government leaders know that the time is near for the IDF to be forced to hit back, especially since it is becoming evident that the Syrian army’s steps ae backed by Russia.
DEBKAfile’s military sources provide details of the Syrian steps:
- The Syrian army’s 90th and 121nd battalions have been firing their artillery batteries non-stop across a 10km band along the Golan border from Hamadia, north of Quneitra, up to a point facing the Israeli village of Eyn Zivan. (See attacked map).
This means that the Syrian army has seized the center of buffer zone between Israel and Syria and made it a firing zone.
- This artillery fire fans out across a radius that comes a few meters short of the Israeli border and the IDF troops stationed there. It then recedes to a distance of 500 to 600 meters and sweeps across the outposts and bases of the Syrian rebel forces believed to be in touch with Israel or in receipt of Israeli medical aid.
- The new Syrian attack appears to hold a message for Jerusalem: For six years, you supported the rebels against the Assad regime in southern Syria. That’s now over. If you continue, you will come face to face with Syrian fire.
- Damascus is also cautioning those rebels: For years, you fought us with Israel at your backs. But no longer. Watch us bring you under direct artillery fire, while the IDF sits on its hands.
- On July 26, Russian media published an article revealing that Russia had delivered to the Syrian Air Force, advanced SU-24M2 front-line bombers, which is designed for attack on frontlines of battle. Israeli officials were unpleasantly taken aback by the news. Up until now, the Russians and Syrians refrained from deploying air strength in South Syria near the Israeli border. Now the Syrian air force has the means to do so.
- DEBKAfile military sources report that the SU-24M2, following recent upgrades and modifications in Russian factories, is now capable of dropping smart bombs – ballistic bombs with a guidance system on their tails that enable them to hit targets with precision.This guidance system does not rely on US GPS satellites but rather the equivalent Russian GLONASS system which is linked to a network of 21 Russian satellites and partially encrypted for military usages.
In addition, the SU-24M2 is equipped with a system that projects the information the pilot needs (flight details and battle details) on the plane’s windshield (head-up display) and on the pilot’s visor.
- The Russians delivered to the Syrians two of these sophisticated airplanes this week, out of 10 that they will supply soon.
The IDF has concluded that it is only a matter of time before these planes appear in Southern Syria and so generate a new and highly combustible situation on Israel’s northern and northeastern borders.
The Russians are colluding with Damascus to inform Israel that it will no longer be allowed by either to continue backing the rebel forces in southern Syria or sustain the buffer zone which they man.
Israel may pay dear if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot decide to continue to abstain from hitting back at the Syrian fire which is aimed every few hours at the vicinity of IDF posts or the impending arrival of Russian bombers. The price in store would be the weakening of the IDF’s hold on the Golan border.
Israeli warplanes on Wednesday reportedly struck a building controlled by the Syrian government near the city of Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
According to Arabic media reports, the planes bombed a target in the city of Medinat al-Ba’ath, near the border of the demilitarized zone in Syria.
It wasn’t immediately clear what purpose the building served, or whether it was occupied at the time of the strike. There was no immediate word on casualties.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that the planes targeted Hezbollah operatives in the area.
The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said it didn’t comment on reports regarding Israeli strikes in Syria.
Israel has maintained an official policy of nonintervention in the Syrian civil war, which has wracked the country for over five years and left over 250,000 dead and millions displaced. Israeli officials have made clear that Israel would act to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining sophisticated weaponry from Syria or Iran.
The IDF has also retaliated when fighting by the various rebel groups and government forces struck Israel.
Times Of Israel
On June 16, the IDF announced the start of a three-day military exercise the following day.
As it began after 17:00pm on June 17, an unidentified UMV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) crossed in from Syria and flew over the Israeli Golan and Upper Galilee for nearly an hour. The small craft had every opportunity to photograph and collect intelligence information on most of the IDF units taking part in the drill and their intelligence resources and beam them back to its operators in Syria.
The IDF hastened to state that the aircraft had been locked into Air Force surveillance all this time and was targeted by three missiles, two Patriot anti-air projectiles and an air-to-air missile of undisclosed type.
They all missed.
This is not surprising: using such missiles to down a UMV is like directing a heavy missile destroyer to swat a small shark. Its chances of hitting a tiny target are close to zero.
DEBKAfile’s military sources say that the use of missiles seems to indicate that someone in the IDF chain of command decided, after losing hope of hitting the intruder, to produce a big bang to frighten it off.
It has to be assumed that the Russian radar systems deployed in Syria spotted and tracked the episode. The Russians must have taken note of the UMV crossing from Syria into Israeli air space and the length of time it was free to linger over the Upper Galilee. They were certainly aware that three Israeli missiles failed to hit their target.
As far as we know, none of the Russian-Israeli coordination mechanisms in place for coordinating their aerial activity over Syria was activated. The Russian command did not warn Israel that an alien UMV was on course to cross its border or offer to help capture it once it returned to Syria.
In other words, the Russians must have known what was going on, as well as the identity of the drone, but kept quiet and let it happen.
This raises the possibility that the UMV was Russian.
This likelihood must be taken into account in the light of another event: just two days earlier, a covert agreement on aerial cooperation between the US and Russia in the Syrian arena was concluded in Moscow by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources analysis commented then: “Direct intelligence cooperation in Syria between the two powers will make the Israeli intelligence system in Syria redundant and weaken its sources and standing.” The UMV episode Sunday demonstrates that the Moscow deal has gone into effect. It is now up to Israel’s military chiefs to take the new reality on board and start adapting.
A flurry of false Hizballah claims amid rising military tension this week was designed to cover up a direct Israeli hit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards HQ in South Syria, DEBKAfile military and intelligence sources disclose.
Whereas Hizballah reported on July 5 that Israeli helicopters had attacked Syrian army positions near the Golan town of Quneitra, in fact, one of the two Israeli “Tamuz” IDF rockets fired on July 4, in response to stray cross-border Syrian army mortar shells, struck the Syrian Ministry of Finance building near Quneitra, which housed Iranian Guards and Hizballah regional headquarters. An unknown number of Iranian officers were killed as a result.
On July 6, Hizballah sources reported a high level of tension at its east Lebanese outposts in Hasbaya, al-Qarqoub and Mount Hermon, indicating possible preparations to retaliate for the Iranian casualties.
The mortar shells that occasionally stray into Israel are aimed by the Syrian forces in Quneitra at Syrian rebel engineering units, which are digging an anti-tank trench on the town’s southern edge to prevent Syrian tanks from mounting an all-out assault against them (See attached map).
These skirmishes are put in the shade by the dangerous gains by Islamist terrorists in southern Syria.
Both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front have overrun the entire Syrian strip bordering on Israel and Jordan – a distance of 106km from Daraa up to the Druze villages of Mount Hermon.
The Islamists have seized control of this strategic borderland by taking advantage of the fighting between Syrian army and Syrian rebel forces in southern Syria.
Israel and Jordan were also remiss. The IDF and the Jordanian Army were so busy trying to prevent the Syrian army, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah from encroaching on their northern defense lines in northern Jordan and the Golan that they failed to notice the Islamic terrorists creeping up on their borders.
The terrorist presence which Israel finds most alarming is that of the “Khaled Bin Al-Walid Army” – a militia linked to both ISIS and al-Qaeda, which now controls a 36km band bordering on central and southern Golan from south Quneitra to the Jordan-Israel-Syria tri-border area – opposite Hamat Gader and Shaar HaGolan (See map).
The Khaled Bin Al-Walid Army was spawned by a union between the Islamist Liwa Shouada Yarmouk and Mouthana Islamic Movement militias. Its commander is Abu Abdullah al-Madani, a Palestinian from Damascus, who is one of al-Qaeda’s veteran fighters. Close to Osama Bin-Laden, he fought with hhimagainst the Americans when they invaded Afghanistan 15 years ago. Ten years ago, he moved to Iraq, still fighting Americans, now alongside the al-Qaeda commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
When al-Qaeda was defeated in Iraq, al-Madani moved to Syria.
DEBKAfile counter terror sources report that this veteran of Islamist terrorism, who is believed to be in touch wit Bin Laden’s successor Ayman al Zawahri, is active in three areas:
1. He is purchasing and stockpiling chemical weapons – a high priced commodity frequently traded among various Syrian rebel organizations.
2. Abu Abdullah al-Madani is recruiting from his militia suicide units for which he is personally training for operations inside Israel. DEBKAfile sources say that his plan is being taken very seriously by Israel security chiefs.
3. He is maintaining operational ties with Al Nusra commanders in the border region, possibly seeking access to the Israeli border through their turf for his chemical weapons and suicide units.
Ahead of Putin meeting, Netanyahu says Tehran cannot be allowed to use Hezbollah as a proxy to attack Jewish state
Israel will not let Iran use the Hezbollah terror group to turn the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border into a new front, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian media outlets in comments published Tuesday.
Netanyahu, who is on a two-day visit to Moscow, told the state-run Interfax news service and TASS news agency ahead of the talks that he would do everything in his power to prevent Iran from gaining a foothold in Syria, and intended to ask Russia for help in curbing the threat from Hezbollah.
“We have a red line, a boundary that we will not allow to be broken. Iran will not be allowed, using Hezbollah, to use Syrian territory to attack us and open up another terrorist front against us in the Golan,” Netanyahu told TASS ahead of a meeting with Putin on Tuesday afternoon — their fourth round of talks in recent months.
The two leaders were expected to continue their ongoing discussion over security coordination between the Russian and the Israeli armies, especially their so-called deconflicting mechanism, installed to assure the Israel Defense Forces does not strike Russian jets operating in Syrian airspace.
“We have made a point of staying out of the Syrian conflict, with two exceptions: treating wounded Syrians on a humanitarian basis and preventing Iran from using Syria to attack Israel or to transfer sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah,” Netanyhau noted. “We don‘t know what will come of Syria, but in any arrangement, it cannot be an Iranian base for terrorism and aggression,” he told Interfax.
“Israel will continue to share its concerns with the Russian government regarding Hezbollah. This terrorist group has called for the murder of every Jew and therefore must be prevented from acquiring advanced weaponry from anyone. Hezbollah launched thousands of missiles at our civilians and we will not allow them to amass even more sophisticated weaponry on our border.”
Netanyahu and Putin were also to mark 25 years of Israeli-Russian diplomatic relations, which were reestablished in January 1992, 25 years after the Soviet Union severed them in the wake of the 1967 Six Day War.
“Russia is an important global power and Israel is an important regional power. President Putin and I understand the value of the ties between our two countries, which have steadily improved over the last quarter of a century. Our relationship has enhanced Russia-Israel cooperation and I expect that this trip will only add to that,” Netanyahu told the Russian media.
“Our coordination mechanism has already proven itself. We would both benefit from strengthening it further.”
During Netanyahu’s visit, Jerusalem and Moscow were also to sign a bilateral pensions agreement, which seeks to “correct a historic injustice regarding emigres from the former USSR up to 1992 who lost their eligibility for a Russian pension,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement Sunday.
The agreement, which will only take effect after Russian authorities ratify it, was to be signed by former immigration and absorption minister Ze’ev Elkin and Russian Labor and Social Protection Minister Maxim Topilin. Payments to Soviet-born Israelis are expected to commence next year.
Tuesday’s meeting in the Kremlin is the fourth contact between the two leaders in less than a year. Netanyahu visited the Russian capital in September 2015 and in April 2016. In addition, the two briefly got together last November on the sidelines of the Paris climate conference. In comparison, in the same time frame, Netanyahu has only met twice with US President Barack Obama.
The Obama administration has the effrontery to reject Israel’s ownership of the Golan Heights.
That upstart nation with less than a quarter of one millennium of history presumes to rule on whether or not land that verifiably belonged to Jews for centuries thousands of years ago is rightfully theirs today!
May the LORD God of Israel humble America – a mighty country that has tragically forgotten the Judeo-Christian rock from which it was hewn, the roots out of which it grew.
Israel’s weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday April 17 was held – historically – on the Golan Heights. It was, of course, not the first Jewish gathering on the high ground that IDF forces brought back into Jewish hands – as ordained and foretold by God – in the Six Day War.
The Golan Heights is saturated with Israel’s history – as recorded in the Bible and since.
For hundreds of years it formed half of the inheritance of the Israelite tribe of Manasseh.
It was included in the kingdoms of the great Jewish kings, David and Solomon
Two thousand years ago it was an integral part of the Galilee – which was a region in the Roman-occupied Land of Israel called Judea.
Jesus travelled near and likely even on the Golan, as the New Testament tells us of His presence in the region of Caesarea Philippi in the northern foothills of the plateau.
The large and formidably fortified Jewish town of Gamla – known as the Masada of the North – sits on the southern Golan. Its conquest by Titus and his legions in AD 67 is both recorded by Josephus Flavius – formerly the Jewish commander of the Galilee during the Great Revolt and the man responsible for directing the construction of the town’s defences – and thoroughly verified in the excavation of the site by Israel that began in 1967.
At least 20 Jewish villages and synagogues from the Talmudic and Mishnaic periods bear witness to the existence of vibrant Jewish life across the region up to 500 years after Christ.
Along with the Land of Israel, the Golan Heights was conquered and occupied by various Arab and other Muslim groups down the centuries. For 400 years it was part of the Ottoman Empire’s province of Palestine until it was liberated by the Judeo-Christian forces led by the British Empire in World War 1.
The Golan Heights was included in the area designated in the Balfour Declaration as intended for Jewish close settlement in readiness for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.
It was only after Great Britain and France later modified the borders in designing the modern Middle East that the Golan was included in what would become a modern Arab country called Syria – one of many brand new Arab states that, unlike Israel, had never existed before in history as national Arab lands.
(Most of the Arab states are newcomers created post-World War 1. The Jewish state, on the other hand, has four millennia of history dating back to its founding fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Israel.)
Syria became an independent country in 1945, just two-and-a-half years before Israel was reborn.
From 1948 until mid-1967, Syria utilised the Golan Heights exclusively as a platform from which to fire on Jewish communities in the Huleh Valley below. A generation of Jewish children grew up with bomb shelters their bedrooms as often as not.
In June 1967, Israel drove the aggressors off the Golan in a self-defensive war, finally returning the plateau to Jewish control. Arab Syria had had possession of the Heights for a mere 22 years. They have been under modern Israel for more than twice that length of time, on top of the centuries when they were part of ancient Israel as outlined above.
In 1982, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which applied Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Heights, effectively extending sovereignty over the Golan.
This act, whether State Department official John Kirby – who on April 18, 2016 declared that “those territories are not part of Israel” – and his bosses are able to swallow it or not, simply brought the Heights back under the ownership of the aboriginal people of the land.
Who, then, do the President of the United States, and those Americans who support him, think that they are?
Of course, such statements and sentiments coming out of the White House and State Department simply accentuate the by-now universally obvious hostility towards Israel of the Obama administration, and put it and America on the wrong side of Israel’s God.
Security Council responds to Egyptian demands to rule on Netanyahu’s claims that Golan will ‘forever remain under Israeli control’.
Egypt, which currently holds a seat as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council, has called a meeting of the international body to discuss last week’s declaration by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that “the Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli control. Israel will never withdraw from the Golan Heights.”
The statement touched off a firestorm of criticism, leading to condemnations from the European Union, Germany, and US State Department. The Arab League went a step further, demanding a special criminal court be established to try Israel for the declaration.
On Tuesday the Egyptian Mission to the UN convened a meeting of the Security Council to formally respond to what Egypt claims is Israel’s illegal unilateral actions.
The Golan Heights were captured by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War. In 1981 the Israeli government annexed the Heights in a move that was quickly condemned by the US and United Nations.
Observers do not anticipate the Security Council will take any drastic actions in response to Netanyahu’s declaration, particularly given the ongoing Syrian civil war and tensions between the West and embattled Syrian President Basher Al-Assad. The closed-door meeting, which is likely to take place later on Tuesday, is expected to issue a warning against unilateral actions to change the status of the Golan.