Tel Aviv (GPA) – Israel has promised to intensify their strikes on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) following a week of rocket strikes that Tel Aviv blames on Damascus.
This Saturday, several rockets fell in the Israeli occupied area of the Golan Heights. While this “attack” caused no injuries and damaged no property, the Israeli military still decided to target three SAA artillery positions within Syrian territory.
While the parts of the Golan occupied by Israel are technically Syrian land that was invaded in 196, this hasn’t stopped Israel from making more demands in the region as the Syrian war draws to a close. In fact, earlier in the week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday to negotiate a “buffer zone” between Shia militias and the Israeli occupied Golan, originally stolen 50 years ago as a “buffer zone” with Syria.
Shoigu and Netanyahu worked out this new “buffer zone for the buffer zone” during their meeting, agreeing to keep Iranian backed forces between 10 to 15 kilometers from Israeli drawn borders. Yet, like anytime anyone gives Israel an inch, they immediately tried to take a mile in less than 24 hours.
The day after Shoigu’s visit to Israel, the Israeli air force immediately bombed SAA forces fighting Al Qaeda and affiliated local militant groups in the Golan Heights. Thursday’s attack on the SAA was the result of what Israel called “errant projectiles” landing in occupied territory.
This “spillover” of the Syrian war is increasingly becoming more “intolerable” for Israel who has two concerns about the outcome of the conflict. The first concern being the victories of Hezbollah during the war, and the second, that the Syrian government has as little control in the Golan as possible.
Most of Israel’s capital in the war is invested directly in operations in the Golan and the nearby area of East Ghouta, where just as recently as Friday, Israeli jets were aiding advances by Al Qaeda affiliated militants. Israel works closely with these groups, as well as their local allies, who have admitted proudly directly to western media that they receive payment from Tel Aviv.
This should provide some context for the unusually modest rhetoric being employed by Israel such as “errant projectiles,” and “spillover.” Israel cannot afford to use the violent language they’d normally employ in these situations due to their long-term illegal occupation and cozy public relationship with a variety of takfiris.
However, if this was the attitude of Israel after Thursday’s attack, things changed by Saturday. This new position voiced in a statement Saturday by the Israeli military, warning Syria that “Whether errant fire or not, any future occurrences will force the Israel Defense Forces to intensify its response.”
According to the statement, Israel “holds the Syrian regime responsible and won’t tolerate any attempt to breach Israeli sovereignty.” Again, as a reminder, this “sovereign” Israeli territory is Syrian land that has been occupied for five decades.
If this statement by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) wasn’t bad enough, others inside Israel, including IDF officials and the media have used even harsher language. One Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, had quotes from several IDF officials taking an even stronger line. One IDF official quoted even implied that the Syrian strikes on Israeli territory were intentional, saying that the rockets are “not what spillover fire looks like.”
Syrian Response and Letter to United Nations
The Syrian military issued a response following the Israeli allegations, saying their intelligence left them with reason to believe the rockets were being fired from rebel-held territory in the Golan.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry also issued a response in the form of two letters sent to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and the President of the UN Security Council, saying Israeli “support of terror” would yield “grave repercussions.”
The letter went on, “Israel asked terrorists to launch projectiles at its own territory, so it could justify its own attack,” and that “This new Israeli aggression against the outskirts of Quneitra is a new chapter in the connection between the Israeli occupation and the armed terrorist organizations, and a desperate attempt to support those organizations.”
While we may never know if Israel directly ordered the attacks, rebels launching rockets at Israel would be consistent with the MO of other Israeli-backed terror groups, whose strikes against Western-backed forces or civilians are often blamed on Damascus.
The letter went on to say that “Syria is surprised over the UN Security Council’s inability to stop and condemn the Israeli attacks which constitute a flagrant violation of the principles of UN Charter, the rules of international law and all relevant resolutions issued by them,” and urged the UN “to put an end to these repeated aggressions.”
James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.