Over the past few years of the Syrian civil war, government and rebel forces have regularly fired shells that landed inside the Israeli-occupied Golan. Most often the shells were fired deliberately (by Hezbollah or Assad loyalists), but often they were errant shots. In most cases, the IDF, in an act of deterrence, would return fire targeting the positions that had shelled Israeli-held territory.
But yesterday, the Israeli army didn’t follow that protocol. Two different rebel groups were fighting for control of a Syrian village just over a mile from the armistice line. The groups contesting the territory were ISIS and the Free Syrian Army/al-Nusra. Several shells overflew their target and landed near an Israeli kibbutz. Instead of firing back, Israel did nothing.
Which raises an interesting question: why? I’ve documented ere the IDF’s ongoing military alliance with al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Walla! reports the firing came from ISIS forces. If this is true, it would indicate the Israeli army is tacitly collaborating not just with al-Nusra (bad enough), but with ISIS (specifically, Saraya al-Jihad) itself. It would mean that Israel is refusing to intervene on behalf even of the most moderate elements of the Syrian rebels, the FSA.
The prospect of Israel aligning itself with the hardest of hardline Islamists, the same ones who only a few months ago beheaded an Israeli (and American) citizen, Steven Sotloff, is beyond bizarre. It makes you realize that Israel’s policies have nothing to do with morality, consistency or even long-term goals (how can an alliance with Islamists be in Israel’s long-term interests?). They are designed to ensure Israel’s shortest of short-term interests. Those who determine Israel’s strategy have determined that they’ll forge a deal with the Islamists because Assad, Hezbollah and Iran are worse enemies. If the Islamists eventually win, then Israel will deal with it.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.