Israelis Alarmed as al-Qaeda Captures Golan, UN Peacekeepers

By Juan Cole

Israel now has a border with al-Qaeda!

Israeli observers have been alarmed by the capture of the Quneitra checkpoint between Syria and the Israeli-Occupied Golan Heights by the al-Qaeda affiliate, the Succor Front (Jabhat al-Nusra). The Succor Front has also captured 44 Fijian UN peacekeeping troops and has surrounded some 75 UN troops from the Philippines. A few days ago, mortars were fired from Syrian Golan into Israeli-Occupied Golan, injuring an officer and a civilian.

The London-based Al-`Arabi al-Jadid reports that Israeli Gen. Aviv Kochavi, now head of the Northern Command but until recently chief of military intelligence, has for two years been warning that the Syrian civil war could spill over onto Israel.


Haaretz has also shown alarm at the developments. Not only is the Succor Front consolidating its hold on Golan, but the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) is alleged to be infiltrating Syrian villages near Israel in the north. The Syrian army, once responsible for Israel-Syria border security, has “evaporated” after losing battles with the militants.

The likelihood that Israel could in the long run be completely insulated from a raging civil war right next door, which has displaced 3 million abroad and more millions internally, was always low. The view that it is good for Israel when the Arabs fight one another is a glib and superficial piece of cynicism challenged by seasoned observers such as Gen. Kochavi.

With ISIL now having taken the Tabqa military base in Raqqa, executing dozens of Syrian troops, the Eastern strategy whereby it avoided directly fighting the regime in Damascus may be coming to an end. An epic struggle between the radical Salafi rebels and the Baath regime is on the horizon. The fate of all of Syria’s neighbors will be affected by its outcome.

Related video:

Positive developments on Golan standoff || Aug. 29, 2014

31 Responses

  1. So, is this the reason Netanyahu decided to quickly end things in the Gaza? Maybe he sees the Golan Heights as potentially an even greater threat. The Gaza’s not going away. He’ll get back to it.

    • There are voices within the secular elements of the Syrian rebel movement who believe that potential Israeli intervention against the Baathists would be a positive thing.

      The Islamic Front brigades had been formed after having broken away from the Free Syrian Army over the FSA’s allegiance to the Syrian National Coalition and have, further, eschewed ties to Western interests. It has been fighting ISIS and has received a large share of its funding from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

    • UN peacekeepers can not be effective because they have light weapons and very restrictive rules of engagement. UN peacekeepers are only effective when the two sides they are keeping apart are willing to respect the UN.

      Notice how the UN was unable to protect Gazans because Israel has no respect for the UN (or any other humans for that matter).

      Bibi knows the UN can’t protect Israel from ISIS and the situation on the Golan is definitely worrying.

  2. Israel, of course, stole the Golan Hts, and the Shebaa (sp?) Farms from spoils of the war in ’67. Israel actually annexed these areas. Does this mean that Israel has permanent rights to this? It seems safe to say that there is no de-annexation thereof in the future.
    If matters get serious in the Golan Heights, then I predict that the U.S. will expand operations versus ISIS.

    • Former U.N. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has stated that Israel has no legitimate right to Shebaa Farms.

      Israel can annex anything it wants but absent agreement from interested parties and international recognition, those annexation claims are not binding on other countries.

      The Golan Heights has long been a bargaining chip in final status negotiations between Israel and her Arab neighbors.

      • I did not know that John Bolton denies that Israel has any claim to Shebaa Farms. That is encouraging to know, since he has always appeared to have a neo-con vision of America cum Israel hegemony uber all of the MIddle East. What says he about Golan Heights?

        • Agreed.

          Bolton has been a fierce supporter of Israel, although he believes the legal sovereignty to Shebaa Farms belongs to Syria.

          In 2008, he criticized then-PM Ehud Olmert for engaging in indirect negotiations with the Syrian government via Turkish intermediaries – which included discussions for a possible Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

    • Do a search on “Armageddonists” and you find all kinds of interesting stuff. Like this, in addition to the Hagee/Roberts/Angley nightmare dreams:

      “On The Road To Armageddon,” link to . It seems a lot of us Murcans are more than a little agreed that the end of the world (the human part of it) as we know it is getting closer. Remember, anyone, the illustration of how a nuclear reaction leading to an atomic/thermonuclear explosion works? link to Huge amount of stored energy + tiny input of sufficient kinetics = WE’RE F___KED!

      Not going to bother to list all the places where energy, potential and “kinetic” (as in Obama’s “kinetic exercise”) and emotional has been stored up, tight as the spring of a mousetrap. All those thousands of nuclear and “ordinary” weapons, all the cordite and smokeless and PETN and TNT and all, all in the hands of people not spiritually advanced enough to see that some little mischance or error or idiotic intentional act on their part, driven by some immediate fear or threat or triggered remotely by some idiotic set of circumstances set in place and in motion by the same sh_tS who set up all the mousetraps and ping pong balls of yore, by their arrogant insouciant greedy foolish idiocy, the Great Wars of the Great Game. link to

      And now the sneaks and stupes have the rest of us Ordinary People tugging at our collars in that universal gesture of increasing anxiety and distress, sensing that maybe this time our rulers and kleptocrats, playing their Games with us as self-regenerating pawns, have got us right to the point where some convenient fool like Gavrilo Princip, a mope put in motion by sneaky-petes long dead, link to , might loose the current equivalent of the little bullet that got all the newspapers and legislators and priests of Europe cheering “IT’S FINALLY WAR!” link to

      See, generally (pun intended), Tuchman’s works, like “The Proud Tower” for a main course, and “The Guns of August” for dessert. And a challenge to all you Really Smart People out there: Lay out the mechanisms and relations that are in place and operating to keep the Really Bad Stuff from happening, and note that “we” can’t even keep from giving reality to the tale of the slowly cooking frog…

  3. File this under “Blowback.” As I recall, al-Qaeda claimed one reason for its 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington was American support for Israel’s treatment of Arabs in Palestine. Presumably, al-Qaeda will continue its hostility towards Israel, especially after its latest attack on Gaza.

    • Actually, there is very little history of confirmed direct conflict between al-Qaeda and Israeli interests.

      One incident was an al-Qaeda attack at the Israeli embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania several years ago.

      The proffered reason for the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center was Israeli destruction of Beirut’s skyline in the 1982 Operation Galilee invasion.

      • Indeed, Al Qaeda is more likely to focus its efforts on Iran rather than Israel. In fact the absence of direct conflict between Israel and Al Qaeda should raise some eyebrows.

  4. What can one do when the Islamic sects go to tearing themselves apart, is there any past history of such madness?…as for Israel …they can handle any spillage ..actually this infighting between Israel’s enemy’s is to israels advantage

    • “…glib and superficial piece of cynicism.”

      Recent events in Gaza (among others) prove that Israel is one of the most active participants in the “madness.”

    • “……….is there any past history of such madness?”

      Recall the ongoing battles between the Sunni, Shi’ite and Druze militias in Lebanon during the 1970s and 80s.

      It tore up the country and led to Syrian and Israeli occupations.

    • What you are seeing is a restructuring caused by a huge power vacuum in the middle east. Most of the “leaders” in the middle east are vastly out of sync with their populations and are doing nothing to try to fix that. As a result, fanatical groups like ISIS can find fertile ground for their causes.

      In Saudi Arabia for example, a small group of very wealthy men are oppressing a huge population of non-wealthy men and women. This is why Al Qaida started in Saudi Arabia.

      In most of the countries in the ME there are similar situations. Even in Jordan, the King is vastly out of sync with his population but is trying to have a smooth transition of power to minimize the chance of war with Israel.

      This is the LONG TERM problem Israel has, eventually the Arab/Persian power structures will get sorted out, just like Europe, the Americas and Asia eventually sorted things out.

      Once the Arab/Persian power structures are sorted out, then the entire region will focus on Israel and Israel does not have the resources to win that war, especially since the US will be reluctant to oppose the entire ME.

      In reality, Israel is NOT capable of “handling any spillage,” especially against a foe that has modern weapons. Israel has no “magic” weapons and all its weapons are vulnerable to modern counter-weapons. Note that the US is reluctant to fly over Syria because Syria has some formidable anti-aircraft weapons. Israel would face the same problem.

      The latest Gaza war has caused Israel enormous economic harm and a fight with ISIS would be even more damaging. Depending on what weapons ISIS captures, it could easily target Ben Gurion Airport where it would only take one commercial aircraft being blown up to stop all air traffic into/out of Israel.

      Your optimism about Israel’s future is misplaced and slightly delusional.

      • Except for that fact that the US poor are going to be charged the costs of the war Israel just waged to the tune of over 3 billion.
        5 senators approved ( with a bit of encouragement from AIPAC) over 200 million for extensions to Israel’s Iron Dome, before they took off for vacation. McConnell rushed back from campaigning to cast HIS vote.
        Is that even legal?

  5. “Bibi” pretends that Hamas, a resistance group against Israeli occupation and for liberation of Palestine, is some sort of “terror” comparable with IS. He may have to start facing reality.

  6. Never use those nuclear weapons, that is. They’ve shown no restraint in the use of most everything else in the weapons locker…

    • Who can Israel nuke without causing its own end?

      If Israel nukes Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza, the West Bank or the Sinai, they will effectively be nuking themselves. That is, the “by products” of the aerial nuclear blasts would contaminate Israel and its food sources. No one likes to eat radioactive food. Of course it would also pretty much shut down all exports because people really fear radiation.

      If Israel nukes Europe or Russia, then they will get nuked in return because France, the UK and Russia are all very capable of eliminating Israel and would have no problem telling the US to shut up and sit down.

      How about Saudi Arabia? I am firmly convinced that the Saudis already have at least one nuclear warhead mounted on a Chinese DF-21 solid fuel MRBM. If it was attacked, it would retaliate. But even if the Saudis didn’t retaliate, the 1.5 BILLION Muslims would consider an attack on their holy shrines unforgivable and would try to kill every Jewish person they could get their hands on and Israel would cease to exist. 6 million Jewish people in Israel are no match for 1.5 BILLION very angry people. No government leader is going to side with Israel. The US might even have to quickly throw Israel overboard.

      Then there is Iraq and Iran, neither of which have nuclear weapons, BUT downwind of those countries are US soldiers in Afghanistan, Pakistan with nuclear weapons, India with nuclear weapons and China with nuclear weapons. China, India and Pakistan will not be very happy getting their people and food sources contaminated and have no problem telling the US to shut up and sit down.

      The bottom line is Israel can not nuke anyone without effectively committing suicide.

      • I thought that Israel’s nukes would only be used as a “take the bastards with us” measure if the Israelis believed they were already doomed.

        • Ah yes, the “Samson Option,” Which will get every Jewish Person on earth killed.

          In the real world, Israel losing its last war would be no different from most of the other countries that have lost wars over the last 10,000 years. As the situation deteriorated, most Israelis would simply flee. Any that stayed would just end up living as a minority in an Arab country, which Jews have done for thousands of years.

          Other than a SMALL number of humans that are clearly identifiable, no humans on earth want to kill all (or even a large number) of the Jews. While the winning Arabs would probably kill any Israelis that continued to resist, just like all winning armies, the Israelis that surrendered would be treated OK.

          In other words, the end of Israel is NOT a reason to have another Masada.

      • Re suicide, our own Rulers have, as you know, on several occasions come within an ace of Mutual Asinine Destruction, ready to launch and toss and drop ten thousand nukes, enough to kill the planet. It has only been by dumb effing luck that the Big It has not happened yet.

        And the warriors in India and Pakistan have had their own Oopsies and near-death experiences. All based on a history of bellicosity that does not seem to give a sh_t about survival of nation, tribe or species.

        If you have inside info on why the Likudians are less crazy and self- destructive than ‘our’ Rulers and their still-operative MADness, something other than wish-and- hopefulness and continued assertions of the obvious but no reflection on the nature and idiocy of the Israelites whose written history is full of tales like Masada and one poking their G_D in the eye with a stick after another. Truly, I would love to have some real assurance that these people are not going to break the pillars that support the roofs of all our houses…

        • I agree that there have been lots of stupid near misses where mankind has narrowly avoided destroying the northern hemisphere (There is very little land mass in the southern hemisphere and most likely it will not get directly nuked, so it may survive a little).

          On the other hand, I have to believe that the people that directly control all the nukes are not suicidal nor crazy..

          But the bottom line is, per the latest climate studies, it could take nuclear air bursts over as few as FIVE cities to trigger Nuclear Winter, so that we have the choice of starving to death, freezing to death or dieing of radiation poisoning.

          Since Israeli seem to be especially stupid, paranoid and delusional, I can NOT provide any assurance they won’t let a crazy person near the nukes.

          All we can do is hope.

        • I recall that since the US warriors had so many damn nukes to play with, the SIOP actually included targeting of a lot of Southern Hemisphere cities too. On the notion that if WE are going to blast’n’freeze ourselves, meaning the Great Civilization and Nation of Freedom’n’Liberty’n’Democracy, then “we” Christian Capitalists were going to be dang sure that some bunch of Greasers or Black People don’t get to Take Over whatever might be left.

          Having lived through the Cuban thing and Curtis Lemay and MacArthur and having read enough to to become away or a number of the Oopsies and near-misses, I would agree that all the rest of us who don’t have a voice in ordering the turning the keys or whatever the launch/drop mechanism is these days, and who read about the kind of crap that goes on amongst the Air Force dudes who babysit all those MIRV’d ICBMs and are daily playing bumper tag with Rooskies and Chinese and all that, all we have as you point out is that saddest of all the plagues on humanity that escaped from Pandora’s box — Hope.

  7. The question is now that these “Jihadists” now have a border with Israel with they focus their attention on them, or will they resume to murder fellow Muslims

    • Right now, the focus of all the groups in the ME is to consolidate power. Once the power structures in the Muslim ME are sorted out, then Israel will be the deer in the headlights.

      A consolidated, resorted Muslim ME that is not controlled by any extremal power (US, UK, Russia, China or whoever) is the worst thing Israelis can imagine. Once the Muslim ME is independent of external control and reasonably OK with each other, Israel will be in a completely untenable position without sufficient resources (cannon fodder, war toys and cash) to sustain a war and it can not “win” in any sense of the word.

      Th basic problem is Israelis invaded the wrong place. The empires were crumbling and over time would be unwilling to protect Israel and at the same time, the ME was starting the process of decolonization. As time goes on, a weak Israel will be surrounded by powerful, angry people.

      Sure the decolonization process is ugly, but in the end it will be very good for the people in the ME (except for Israel).

      Watch this space.

  8. My hopes are that ISIS’ pressure and the perseverance of the brave Gazans and Abbas’ decision to circumvent the sham US-sponsored talks might finally bring the Palestinians some justice – and a state!

  9. Killing people and taking over Sh. Farms and Golan H will come back to bite soon. ONe cannot kill and take over others countries and get away with it forever. Tem. yes but the long term no.

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