Attack on Syria recalls Israel’s support for al-Qaeda in illegally occupied Golan

Israel attacked Syria again on April 21, after two errant rockets landed in an open area in the illegally Israel-occupied Golan, causing no damage.

The Golan Heights has a strong al-Qaeda presence. Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, one of the most powerful forces in the opposition, seized the city of Quneitra in the Golan in 2014.

You would not know this from the media coverage of the attack, however.

Reports by AFP and in the Israeli media simply used the generic term “rebel,” and did not mention Jabhat al-Nusra is the major “rebel” force in the illegally Israel-occupied Syrian territory.

The attack recalls Israel’s support for Syrian al-Qaeda, which even mainstream media outlets have acknowledged.

The right-wing Wall Street Journal admitted in a March 2015 article:

Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer—and some of its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.

To the north of Mount Bental are the positions of the Syrian government forces and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as Hezbollah, along with Iranian advisers. Iran and these militias are indirectly allied with Washington in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. But here in the Golan, they have been the target of a recent Israeli airstrike. Israel in recent months also shot down a Syrian warplane and attacked weapons convoys heading through Syria to Hezbollah.

Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s military intelligence, told the Wall Street Journal Israel sees “the radical Sunni Islamists” as a lesser evil against the Syrian government, Iran, and Hezbollah. “Those Sunni elements who control some two-thirds to 90% of the border on the Golan aren’t attacking Israel. This gives you some basis to think that they understand who is their real enemy—maybe it isn’t Israel,” Yadlin said.

Award-winning journalist Robert Fisk likewise reported on Israel’s de facto support for al-Qaeda in the Golan Heights, in a November 2016 article in The Independent. He wrote:

One Syrian lieutenant described to me how he directed his artillery fire onto an Israeli jeep in the Nusra-occupied town of Al-Hamidiya inside Syria and destroyed it. The jeep might have been a gift or borrowed from Israel – whether there were any Israeli personnel inside it if it was hit is another matter. The Syrians, however, also say that Israeli bulldozers were used to build a new supply route for Nusrah between Quneitra and Golan – again, inside Syria’s frontiers.

All of which raises a compelling question. The Nusra-controlled territory between the Syrians and the Israeli lines on Golan – and other Islamist groups and a few remnants of the old “Free Syrian Army” allied to them in this location – stretches all the way south to the edge of the Syrian city of Deraa and right down to the Jordanian frontier. And beyond that frontier is the so-called “Military Operations Centre” – the “MOC” of which both the Islamists and the Syrian army refer – where Western intelligence officers maintain a liaison and weapons supply depot for the anti-government Syrian forces.

So what is the relationship between the MOC and its Western backers – who maintain contact with Nusra – and the Israelis who treat Nusra’s wounded in their hospitals? The Jordanian border and the Israeli lines on Golan are at their most only about 70 miles apart and opposition fighters hold all the land in between.