Note: The commandos report begins at 1:00.
Fox News has published a video which it says “captured, for the very first time, Israeli commandos coming back from inside Syria on a mission.”
While not very surprising, the video raises some interesting aspects of Israel’s role in the 26-month-old conflict on its northern border.
First, the video sheds light on what Israel means by intervention, as apparently sending commandos into Syria doesn’t count.
The official Israeli position on Syria is that “Israel has so far refrained from intervening in Syria’s civil war and will maintain this policy as long as Assad refrains from attacking Israel directly or indirectly,” which is what a senior Israeli official told the New York Times this week.
Israel has executed three unilateral airstrikes inside Syria since January — one of which hit Assad’s mountain stronghold in Damascus — based on the conviction that it will not allow sophisticated weaponry to be transferred to Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
Wikimedia CommonsSecond, the appearance of Israeli commandos on the border highlights how
Syria’s southern neighbour is facing an increasingly dangerous situation as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad loses grip on territories in and around the Golan heights.We see terror organisations that are increasingly gaining footholds in the territory and they are fighting against Assad. Guess what? We’ll be next in line,” Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz told Richard Engel of NBC News.
The New York Times notes that analysts have raised the possibility of Israel creating a buffer zone and arming a proxy force inside Syria, “similar to what it did beginning in the 1970s with the South Lebanon Army.”
Israel has already deployed a third Iron Dome missile defence system near its northern borders, strengthened its border fence while upgrading intelligence-gathering capabilities in the area, and placed Golan forces on high alert as the Syrian civil war rages on in front of them.
Third, intelligence collection — both through spy tools as well as human intel — is becoming increasingly important as Israel and other international actors analyse the state of Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles as well as the increasing presence of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah inside Syria.
An example of the Iran-Hezbollah-Israel stakes inside Syria were exemplified by the assassination of Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) senior commander General Hassan Shateri (aka Hessam Khosnevis)
Shateri served as Iranian President Mahmoud “Ahmadinejad’s personal representative in Lebanon” while leading “the Iranian-financed reconstruction projects in the south of Lebanon.”
His work involved controlling banks and hotels, building a sophisticated communications network there, and allegedly “controlled several funds amounting to $200 million a year used to replace Hezbollah’s lost arsenal and rebuild its missile sites” after they were decimated in its war with Israel in the summer of 2006.
All in all, Israeli commandos working inside Syria simply reinforces how engaged Israel is with the Syria conflict, even if all of their moves aren’t obvious.
“This is the new reality of the Golan Heights,” Brig. Gen. Gal Hirsch, an active reservist who is deputy commander of a unit focused on long-range operations in enemy territory, told The New York Times. “Inside the bush, we have units that are ready to jump and open fire. You can see here tanks, you can see forces — and there are many things you cannot see.”
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