وزير الدفاع الاسرائيلي السابق يعلون يقر لاول مرة بوجود قناة اتصال بين بلاده وداعش في سوريا
שר הביטחון לשעבר יעלון מאשר לראשונה את קיומו של ערוץ תקשורת בין ישראל ודאעש בסוריה
Thanks to Middle East Eye for republishing this post in an earlier, slightly different version.
In the midst of complaining about the Islamist threat to Israel and the world, Bibi Netanyahu conveniently forgets that his own country enjoys a tacit alliance with ISIS in Syria. It is an alliance of convenience to be sure and one that’s not boasted about by either party. But is not terribly different from one than Israel enjoys with its other Muslim allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.
Bogie Yaalon served as defence minister in the current Israeli government till he had a falling out with Netanyahu in May 2016. Now Yaalon plans to form his own party and run against his former boss. Unfortunately for him, he’s not polling well and doesn’t appear to be much of a political threat.
So Yaalon enjoys the position of having little to lose. He can speak more candidly than the average politician. In this context, he spoke at length on security matters at a public event in Afula. There is always much that I disagree with whenever I read Yaalon’s views. For example, while warning in this video about the danger of favoring too heavily one side over the other in Syria, he essentially justifies Israel’s interventionist approach. It has largely has favored Assad’s Islamist opponents. Nor do I much like, in another context, Yaalon’s choice of political allies–from Islamophobe blogger Pam Geller to Meir Kahane’s grandson.
But he did reveal Israel’s ties to ISIS in Syria. I’ve documented, along with other journalists, Israeli collaboration with al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda. But no Israeli till now has admitted it has collaborated with ISIS as well. Below Yaalon implicitly confirms this:
…Within Syria there are many factions: the regime, Iran, the Russians, and even al-Qaeda and ISIS. In such circumstances, one must develop a responsible, carefully-balanced policy by which you protect your own interests on the one hand, and on the other hand you don’t intervene. Because if Israel does intervene on behalf of one side, it will serve the interests of the other; which is why we’ve established red lines. Anyone who violates our sovereignty will immediately feel the full weight of our power. On most occasions, firing comes from regions under the control of the regime. But once the firing came from ISIS positions–and it immediately apologized.
The attack he refers to was reported in Israeli media. But ISIS’ apology was not. It was suppressed most certainly because an ISIS’ apology would embarrass both Israel and the Islamists as it has now.
Some critics claim that an ISIS apology doesn’t signify an alliance or serious collaboration between the Islamist group and Israel. To which I reply–when you bomb an ally you apologize. When you bomb an enemy–you don’t. What does that make ISIS to Israel? Further, when was the last time an Islsmist terror group apologized for for firing bullets at Jews or Israelis?
UPDATE: RT reports that the specific incident involved the ISIS Shuhada al-Yarmouk “cell,” which had taken over a former UN observation post on the border. The IDF Golani brigade which patrolled that sector believed this could signify an aggressive posture by ISIS which might threaten Israeli territory. So the commander ordered a unit into the area, within Syrian territory, in order ambush the ISIS detachment. When armed Islamists appeared to be moving in the direction of the border, the Golani troops opened fire. In the ensuing battle, eight of the Islamists were killed. The fact that the group later apologized to Israel indicates to me that the al-Yarmouk detachment had violated an understanding worked out by the two sides.
Mako is the first Hebrew-language news outlet to grasp the import of Yaalon’s statement, though it typically, for security-obsessed Israel, allowed for the fact it may’ve been a “slip of the tongue.” When Mako asked for Yaalon to clarify his statement, he declined. This is a further indication of the veracity of my reporting here.
Returning to ISIS, this is the same group which beheaded a Jewish-American who’d lived in Israel: Steven Sotloff. The same ISIS which raped Yazidi women and threw gay men off buildings. The same ISIS which has rampaged through the Middle East sowing havoc and rivers of blood wherever it goes. The same ISIS which Netanyahu routinely excoriates as being the root of all evil in the world. Like here, for example:
“Iran and the Islamic State want to destroy us, and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today,” said Netanyahu, adding, “those who threaten to destroy us risk being destroyed themselves.”
It’s common knowledge that Israeli foreign policy going back to the days of Ben Gurion has been exceedingly opportunistic and amoral as exemplified in this infamous statement:
”Were I to know that all German Jewish children could be rescued by transferring them to England and only half by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for the latter, because our concern is not only the personal interest of these children, but the historic interest of the Jewish people.”
So I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised at this new development. But still it does momentarily take one’s breath away to contemplate just how brutally cynical Israel’s motives and choices can often be.
NOTE: I’m especially amused that a member (not me) of the subreddit /r/syriancivilwar submitted this post to Reddit. There was an immediate clamor for it to be removed. It was. The reason given was that it contravened Rule 15 which stated that material that is unsubstantiated may not be published. It seems that a public statement by a former Israeli defense minister in a major Israeli publication is “unsubstantiated” according to the standards of these moderators. In reality, they just don’t like the idea that Israel is collaborating with ISIS in any form. I note that at least one of the moderators is Israeli and proudly so, as his avatar is an Israeli flag.
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.