News / Middle East

Israel On Guard as Fighting in Syria Comes Closer

Smoke rises from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Kuneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, June 6, 2013.Smoke rises from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Kuneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, June 6, 2013.
x
Smoke rises from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Kuneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, June 6, 2013.
Smoke rises from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Kuneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, June 6, 2013.
Scott Bobb
Fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near Syria's cease-fire line with Israel and along Syria's border with Lebanon has underscored Israeli fears the Syrian conflict increasingly is drawing closer. Israel says it is neutral but will respond if its security is threatened.
 
Israeli troops in the Golan Heights watched Thursday as Syrian government forces and rebels battled for control of a crossing on the Syrian side of the cease-fire line that separates Syria and the Jewish state.

It was another reminder for Israelis of how close the Syrian conflict is getting.  

The expanding Syria fighting has Israel worried about security along its border, as noted this week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Heightened security concerns

He said the Middle East is going through a highly sensitive time: turmoil, revolutions and many changes. Netanyahu also said Israel has no interest in becoming a part of these conflicts, but is prepared to prevent any threat to Israel's security.
 
Rockets and gunfire from battles between Syrian rebels and government forces have hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on several occasions, bringing Israeli retaliation.
 
In addition, Israeli planes have struck in Syria at weaponry that Israel says was being transferred to Lebanon's Hezbollah group. Israel considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
 
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview this week on Hezbollah's al-Manar television that his forces would retaliate against Israel. He said Syria has responded directly to several Israeli violations in the past, and this depends on the feeling of the people. He said there is clear popular pressure on Syria to open the Golan front for resistance.
 
An analyst with Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies, Bernedetta Berti, said that although the Syrian conflict has not affected Israelis a great deal, security in the Golan is a concern.
 
"There is a fear that the area bordering the Golan might increasingly become unstable, ungoverned and a magnet for foreign fighters, jihadis, or just in general militants who may have an antagonistic agenda with respect to Israel," said Berti.

Treading carefully

Hebrew University Professor of Middle Eastern Studies Moshe Ma'oz noted that Islamic militants have joined both sides in the Syrian conflict. He said the situation bears watching but urges caution on any Israeli response.
 
"They are dangerous. They are motivated. They are ideological. But they are not very numerous. And many of them are not Syrians at all. And they endanger also the main body of the Syrian rebels," said Ma'oz.
 
Israeli authorities are especially concerned that advanced weapons or chemical weapons might come under the control of Hezbollah or other Islamist groups.

Israel says it will not allow this to happen, and its planes reportedly have struck such weapons in Syria on several occasions this year.
 
Analyst Berti said the Israeli air strikes have been few and deliberately restrained.
 
"This was an intervention that was, in the Israeli perception, selective and not meant to trigger broader involvement. In other words it was more a signaling to both Assad and Hezbollah that Israel was not going to tolerate such transfers of weapons," said Berti.

Fears of regional conflict

Israel has said it also would respond if Russia tries to deliver advanced S-300 air defense missiles to Syria as it has promised.
 
Analyst Ma'oz said he does not believe Syria or Lebanon want to reignite a conventional war with Israel. But he said Syria's escalating civil war could have unintended side effects.
 
"It's a dangerous situation and it can deteriorate into a regional war. And Israel has to be very careful to avoid further provocation," he said.
 
The U.S. government, Russia and United Nations are trying to convene an international conference aimed at ending the Syrian conflict, though most analysts are not optimistic. The proposed peace gathering will not take place until at least July.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials remain vigilant as fighting rages in nearby Syria.

You May Like

Report: $60 Billion Leaves Africa Illegally Each Year

Report by a joint UN and African Union panel says African countries need to take concrete measures to stop billions of dollars from illegally being moved out of continent each year More

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Some analysts say Russian Tu-95 bombers were flying near British airspace to warn Britain about an inquest into a murdered Russian spy More

Mugabe Defends Image Amid Controversy at Close of AU Summit

He rejects concerns about how the West might perceive his leadership, saying he's focused on African development More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKf from: Ottawa, Canada
June 15, 2013 9:46 PM
Historically, it is usually not a good idea for a bordering country to get involved in a civil war. Israel, so far, has maintained a neutral position, and it is the right option and choice. At the same time, any attempts to have a deliberate spill over, of a civil war, into an adjacent country need to be stopped immediately; and a buffer zone of at least double the distance of the longest range weapon utilized, in the spill over needs to be maintained. In my view, the situation on the Golan, is very risky, especially given all the threats that Assad has made re:opening a front against Israel on the Golan. Given that Syria has an airforce, and missiles with a range of several hundred Kms, any indications that a front against Israel is about to be initiated or it has been initiated, would have deadly consequences fot Syria's Assad; Israel, or any other nation in similar circumstances, would have no choice, but to respond in a very significant way. I hope this bleak scenario, does not occurr, because such a required response would in all likelyhood completely change the balance of power in Syria. So fa,r Israel has maintained a neutral position, in that it has not involved itself in trying to change the balance of military power in Syria, which I hope will remain unchanged. Assad has made a number of other serious errors, potentially he could make one more....


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 13, 2013 9:36 AM
What is the understanding for positioning a standing army in the Golan Heights? If the UN is not willing to maintain the standing order, then let Israel which conquered it in the past move in and take care of it until the UN wakes up from sleep. It should not be Russia at all, an unpredictable lot. Austria pulled out this week for security reasons. If a peacekeeping mission is not able to maintain its status, then it is not worth its salt. This requires an urgent action to replace the ones that pulled out, because a war between Israel and its unfriendly neighbors goes beyond acceptable war-games rules. So it's either the UN moves quickly or Israel makes the move. The bottom line is Israel and the neighborhood must be safe.


by: Anonymous
June 07, 2013 9:10 PM
So Putin is offering to put troops in the Golan heights, that would never happen. Russia wants to get their nose in there, Putin has to realize once the war in Syria is over, the Russian Navy & Army will never be welcomed in Syria again. Are you really that stupid Putin? Do you think Israel would ever want your men in the Golan Heights? You must either be a) On glue or b) just plain stupid.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relationsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
January 31, 2015 10:50 PM
Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Spy Murder Probe Likely to Further Strain British-Russian Relations

Relations between Russia and the West are set to become even more strained amid an inquiry in London into the murder of a former Russian spy. Lawyers at the inquiry accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of directing a "mafia state." Meanwhile, Royal Air Force fighters intercepted Russian bombers close to British airspace this week, prompting authorities to summon Moscow’s ambassador. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Neighborhood Divided Over Conflict

People in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk districts find themselves squarely in the path of advancing Russian-backed rebels, who want to take back the territory they held at the beginning of the conflict last year. Many local residents are afraid, but others would welcome the change, even when a rebel shell lands in their neighborhood. From the Luhansk district, 15 kilometers from where the Ukrainian government marks the front line, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid