Asa Winstanley
26 May 2015
Antiwar.com

Since January, I have been ploughing a lonely furrow in this column by covering what is certainly one of the most under-reported stories in the world right now: Israeli involvement in the war in Syria.

Almost unnoticed by the mainstream media, Israel’s occupation forces in the Golan Heights have been in alliance with the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s official franchise in Syria. This alliance certainly includes logistical support and may even extend as far as arming al-Qaeda rebels in south-western Syria.

In January, I showed how the reports of UN peacekeepers in the Golan had talked of regular contacts between rebel forces in that Israeli-occupied sector of Syria. They also observed, according to a June report, Israeli soldiers “handing over two boxes to armed members of the opposition” from the Israeli-occupied side to the Syrian-controlled side.

According to further reports by UN peacekeepers, such interactions continued after Quneitra (a town containing a key checkpoint between the Israeli-occupied and Syrian-controlled sectors of the Golan) was overrun by the Nusra Front.

In March, I wrote on how an Israeli army spokesperson had now confirmed these reports. He clarified that this extended to logistical support in the form of medical aid to al-Qaeda rebels. “We don’t ask who they are, we don’t do any screening,” the unnamed Israeli military official told the Wall Street Journal. “Once the treatment is done, we take them back to the border [sic – ceasefire line] and they go on their way [in Syria],” he said.

For several years now there have been propaganda reports in the Israeli press about how Israel is supposedly playing a purely “humanitarian” role in the Syrian war, by treating civilians and sending them back. But this has now been exposed as propaganda. If that were really the case, Israel would be treating combatants from all sides in the Syrian war and furthermore it would arrest suspected al-Qaeda militants. But in reality, all reports confirm that the Israelis are treating only the “rebel” side, including the al-Qaeda militants that lead the armed opposition in that area of Syria (as indeed they do in much of the country). The key difference that disproves the propaganda line, and proves an active Israel-al-Qaeda alliance is that, after treatment, instead of arresting them, the al-Qaeda fighters are sent back to fight in Syria. There is no chance at all that, in the event that Israel captures injured Hamas, Hizballah or Iranian combatants alive, it would send them back to Gaza or Syria to “go on their way”, as the unnamed Israeli official put it.

After all, Israeli forces in that area have, during the course of the war, made several air-strikes on what they claimed were Hizballah targets in Syria. If Israel were genuinely opposed to al-Qaeda, it would hit their positions too. But it seems that Israel prefers al-Qaeda over Hizballah and Iran.

In April, I reported how Israel had started to cover up its alliance with al-Qaeda. It seems that the propaganda line about their humanitarianism had not been bought by many, so they took measures to stop too much being revealed. Sedqi al-Maqet, a pro-government Syrian activist from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, was arrested, with a military gag-order initially banning the Israeli press from reporting the case. Al-Maqet had used his residence in the Golan to report from his Facebook account in Arabic about contacts he said he had witnessed between Israeli armed forces and what he termed terrorists active in the Syrian-controlled sector of the Golan. One of these videos, aired on Syrian state TV, was used to charging him with “spying”.

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