Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Israel and the Syrian War

US airstrikes in Syria were the main headlines, (I will write about those soon) and mentioned on the sidelines was the Syrian plane that Israel shot down.

It is interesting to hear that Israel shot down a plane on the same day, because the US told Israel that they were bombing Syria so that a mistake wouldn't be made.


Senior IDF officers said last week that Israel would provide the United States with intelligence that could help it act against IS. Reuters reported that Israel had given the United States satellite photographs of IS targets.

BBC, see also Al Jazeera
A Syrian fighter jet which apparently strayed into Israeli-controlled airspace over the occupied Golan Heights has been shot down by Israel.
The plane, identified by Israeli sources as a Russian-built Sukhoi, plunged to the ground in flames but the pilot reportedly managed to eject.
Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Israel would respond to threats whether or not "they stemmed from a mistake".
 A Syrian activist group said the jet had been bombing an area inside Syria.
It is the first time since the 1980s that the Israeli military is known to have shot down a Syrian plane although Syria's civil war has threatened to spill over the border, and Israel has carried out air strikes inside Syria in response to cross-border attacks.
Brigadier General Ram Shmueli, former head of the Israeli air force's intelligence unit, said the likely cause of the incident was pilot error.
"We believe [the pilot's] mission was to attack enemy forces - not ours - in the Syrian Golan Heights," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the civil war, said the jet had been bombing areas outside Quneitra, a Syrian town near the Israeli-held side of the frontier.
This is not the first time Israel has been active in Quneitra.  I wrote about an Islamic group (some said it was ISIS, others said it was not) taking over the Quneitra border crossing in the Occupied Golan Heights in August.

From my blog post in August
Islamist opposition fighters in Syria, including members of an Al Qaeda affiliate, took control of the Quneitra crossing point on the demarcation line with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, activists said on Wednesday. [August 27]
The move could bring Islamist forces within 200 yards of territory controlled by Israel.
The Israeli military said one soldier and an Israeli civilian were wounded by “errant fire” from the clashes at Quneitra on Wednesday, prompting an artillery barrage against two Syrian Army positions in the Golan Heights — the latest of several occasions when Syria’s civil war has spilled into Israel, prompting retaliation. Israel has said it has no interest in further involvement in the fighting. (emphasis mine)

From The Jewish Press article quoted in my blog post (emphasis mine)
It was the third attack in a single day, the most intensive shelling from Syria in months. No one was physically injured and no property damage was reported in the attack.
Hours earlier, in the morning, an IDF officer was moderately wounded and two Israeli vehicles were damaged in a similar attack. A barrage of Syrian mortar shells was fired from across the border – again, from the Quneitra area.

There was also another retaliation by Israel in June in response to an attack that killed a teenager.
The Israeli military said Monday that it had struck Syrian Army targets in response to an attack in the Golan Heights the day before that killed an Arab-Israeli teenager and wounded two others.
The killing of the youth, Mohammed Karaka, in an attack on an Israeli defense contractor’s vehicle was the first fatality on the Israeli side of the Syrian border since Syria’s civil war started more than three years ago.

In June Prime Minister Netanyahu promised more attacks in Syria if attacks continued in Israel, even though
It was not immediately clear whether Syrian troops or one of the many rebel groups battling the government carried out Sunday’s deadly attack in the Golan.
So far
Israel is likely "to stick to its [present] Syria policy, which involves containing the threat by beefing up the border and by monitoring changes on the ground while seeking to avoid being dragged into the civil war"
but there are fears among the population in the Golan Heights that the war will spill over into Israel.

Israel may say that it is only "beefing up border security and monitoring changes on the ground" but shooting down planes, even if the plane was not attacking Israel, bombing inside Syria and this report from last year when Israel bombed a chemical weapons base (3 months before Obama threatened to) is hardly passive actions like border security and monitoring the situation.

April 2013 Report: Israel bombs Syrian chemical weapons base
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) reported at the weekend that Israeli warplanes had bombed a chemical weapons base in Damascus. The Israeli government gave no response.
Israel and the West have taken the Syrian regime to task for reportedly using chemical weapons against rebel populations in recent weeks. Equally concerning is the idea that Syria's chemical weapons stockpile, one of the largest in the world, could fall into the hands of Syrian rebel groups or even Hezbollah.
Many of the groups making up the Syrian rebel forces are either affiliated with or part of organizations like Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. The kinds of groups Israel will do almost anything to prevent from possessing weapons of mass destruction.

But even all of that was not the only news out of Israel.

DW The Philippines has pulled out more than 240 UN peacekeepers from the Golan Heights two weeks earlier than planned
The premature withdrawal brings to an end the country's five-year role in the Golan Heights peacekeeping mission, which Zagala said had been blighted by kidnappings and attacks by Syrian rebels.
Meanwhile Irish peacekeeping troops will stay in Golan

This shift is part of the Syrian war as troops came under increasing attacks.
The UNDOF (UN Disengagement Observer Force), whose troops come from Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines, has been monitoring a 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel following their 1973 war.

Arab Israeli convicted of training/fighting with Islamic State
An Israeli citizen was found guilty Tuesday of traveling to an enemy country and joining Islamic State during a four-month stay in Syria earlier this year.  Ahmad Sorbaji, 23, of Umm al-Fahm, was found by the Haifa District Court to have entered Syria, a country with which Israel is officially at war, and to have received military training from Syrian rebel groups, including Islamic State, with the intention of fighting in the Syrian civil war.
Some 10 Arab citizens of Israel have left the country to join the Islamic State, a Shin Bet security service source was quoted by the Israel Hayom newspaper as saying in September.
An additional number is believed to have traveled to join more moderate rebel groups such as the Free Syrian Army. Several Israeli Arabs have reportedly been killed in Syria.
Last week it was reported that Rabiya Shahade, 26, from Nazareth, has been fighting in Syria with Islamic State and has been in that country for about a year. Shahade, who goes by the name Abu Musaav Alsafuri in Syria, was described in a Yedioth Ahronoth report as having had Christian and Jewish friends before he became radicalized. He left behind in Israel a wife and newborn son.
In May, Idris Abu Alqayan, 23, a Bedouin Israeli citizen from the Negev, was charged with conspiracy to commit a crime and aiding an unlawful exit from the country after he allegedly helped two family members leave Israel for Syria to join the Islamic State.

Israeli continues to build settlements illegally.  They were a major factor in the breakdown of peace talks in April which lead to the war in Gaza.
The September 1 announcement follows other recent Israeli plans relating to settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, including the award of tenders to build 708 new housing units in another settlement near Jerusalem, and plans to force thousands of Palestinian Bedouin residents out of areas zoned for settlement expansion, which violate international law. Since January, Israeli authorities have announced plans to build more than 8,000 settlement housing units.

Israel killed the "alleged" suspects in the kidnapping of the 3 teens that was seen as the excuse for Israel's war in Gaza.


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