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Kehoe rules out withdrawal of Irish troops from Golan Heights – Irish Times

I believe they are doing very important work there on an ongoing basis, Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe said. Photograph: Alan Betson

The withdrawal of Irish peacekeeping soldiers from the Golan Heights has been ruled out by Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe.

He said no mission came without its dangers and he did not believe a withdrawal would be in the best interests of peacekeeping.

I believe they are doing very important work there on an ongoing basis, he added.

The soldiers are serving on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitoring a truce between Syria and neighbouring Israel in place since 1974.

Heavy machine gun fire from the Syrian civil war has landed in the Irish base and mortar rounds have hit just outside the camp. Israeli defence forces have carried out retaliatory strikes.

Mr Kehoe told the Dil he had asked Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, General Brennan, to keep him abreast of all ongoing situations there.

He said Ireland was absolutely, steadfastly committed to UN peacekeeping and this informed interactions with all partners at the UN and elsewhere.

Fianna Fil spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said reports suggested a full-scale offensive was taking place in Quneitra, less than 2km from the Irish camp.

In one instance, she said, the mortar fire landed so close to the Irish base that it shook the ground and Irish troops thought they had been hit.

Ms Chambers said informed security sources said at no time were the Irish camp or UN personnel deliberately targeted.

I am concerned that there has been no publicity about this and no official response, she added.

Independent TD Mick Wallace said Ireland was facilitating the ongoing illegal occupation of the Golan Heights by Israel.

The Israeli government recently called for an increase in settlements by 100,000 over the next five years, he added. This is scary.

Independent TD Clare Daly said it was an odd type of ceasefire when it was established fact that Israel had been given material aid to ISIS, the Al-Nusra front and others in the Golan Heights.

Mr Kehoe said he had answered questions from the media last week, adding his paramount concern was to protect the health and safety of Irish personnel.

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Russia Ready To Attack Israel Over Golan Heights Dispute

Russia is prepared to attack Israel in order to help recover the Golan Heights on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Since 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights, Syria has expressed its determination to take it back, and it now has the full support from Russian authorities.

According to Wikipedia,

Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967.

However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory.

Awdnews.com reports: Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967.

However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory.

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So LEGALLY the Golan Heights STILL belongs to Syria.

But RIGHTLY and SCRIPTURALLY it belongs to Israel.

Yes, once again, there is going to be a fight over it but this time Russia will be involved and scripture will be fulfilled.

But there is a new twist to the situation, they found huge oil deposits in the Golan heights and this land has now become VERY valuable and Syria is going to want it back.

The Syrian government has been losing a lot of land to ISIS and the rebels and now Russia has come into the picture to reclaim this land for Assad.

Syria has pretty much been destroyed and it is going to take a lot of money to rebuild the country and the huge oil deposits in the Golan Heights worth BILLIONS of dollars can really help out. Syria is definitely going to want this back because legally according to the international community it is theirs anyway.

The problem is this: Israel is NOT going to give up the Golan Heights.

After Russia and company clear ISIS out of Syria all Assad has to do is say, While we are at it, lets get the Golan Heights back also.

Iran, Hezbollah, Sudan, Libya, Turkey and others would just be chompin at the bits to help drive Israel out of the Golan Heights.

And the international community that says it belongs to Syria, has to back Syria in this.

Doesnt look to good for Israel.

Nevertheless, scripture will be fulfilled and it will all go down as the Lord said it would.

In the old testament scriptures, the Golan Heights was known as Bashan.

Now for those if you reading this and you are unfamiliar with the holy scripture, there is a prophecy in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 that tells us about this upcoming battle in the Golan Heights.

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Russia Ready To Attack Israel Over Golan Heights Dispute

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Irish troops are forced to take cover in battle – Independent.ie

Sustained fighting between rival anti-government factions outside Camp Ziouani spilled over into the peacekeepers’ compound as bursts of machine gun fire landed inside.

Soldiers dived for cover in a protective operation known as groundhog and had to stay inside bunkers for several hours until the shooting subsided.

Camp Ziouani is mission headquarters for the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF) on the Golan and part of it is used to house the 136 troops from the Defence Forces.

The incidents involving groundhog took place over a 10-day period between June 23 and July 2 as fighting outside the compound between the local groups intensified into a lengthy firefight involving mortars and small arms.

Nobody was injured by the rounds, which hit the camp, although the firing was described as “very close”.

Fighting between the groups erupts regularly between the factions in an area stretching from 1km to 3km from the camp, in what is meant to be a demilitarised zone.

The Irish are part of a UN force, which was sent to the region to monitor a ceasefire agreement between Syria and Israel, and they act as the force reserve component.

The Irish have the best armoured protection in the mission as they supply a quick reaction force (QRF), which goes out on patrol from the camp and can be called in to assist UN personnel in danger elsewhere. The QRF, a 30-strong platoon of troops, must be ready at 15 minutes’ notice to respond to an incident, while the Irish also supply a specialist search team of engineers, who can be deployed to clear an area.

The groups involved in the latest fighting were not identified but were thought to be affiliates of the al-Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which is said to be linked to Isil.

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Netanyahu seeks Russian buffer zone near Golan Heights – World Israel News

Putin greets Netanyahu on March 9, 2017. (YouTube Screenshot)

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Netanyahu reportedly asked Putin to support a Russian-US buffer zone near Israels Golan Heights region, to keep out Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias.

Speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Russia and the United States cooperate on a buffer zone in Syria extending eastward from Israels Golan Heights region, as originally reported by the London Times.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, confirmed the two leaders phone conversation about Syria.

Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation, the Kremlin stated. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria.

Specifically, Israel is pushing for an arrangement that would keep Hezbollah or other Iranian-backed militias from having a presence in the zone, which would extend approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) beyond the border.

The report added that Israeli officials have been on the sidelines of recent discussions between the US and Russia over the future of Syria.

Netanyahus reported request to Putin precedes US President Donald Trumps first face-to-face meeting with Putin, at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Friday. For his part, Trump has expressed opposition to Russias continued support of Iran and Syria.

On Thursday during an address to the people of Poland, Trump urged Russia to cease its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News

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Netanyahu seeks Russian buffer zone near Golan Heights – World Israel News

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Getting Golan: Israeli-Levantine Tensions Reach Same Old Heights – The McGill International Review

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assads Alawite regime would not have survived the Sunni revolt that erupted in 2011 without Irans commitment of Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah fighters to the battlefields in the Levant. Irans political, economic and military support enabled President Assad to defeat legions of Sunni insurgent militias armed and financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.Ss Central Intelligence Agency. The House of Assad has been revolutionary Irans closest, most consistent ally in the Arab world and its logistical umbilical cord to Lebanons Hezbollah, the Shite militia Tehran mid-wifed after the 1982 Israeli invasion.

Iran has no intention of withdrawing its troops and militia from Syria now that its ally has defeated the rebels in Aleppo after savage bombing campaigns launched by the Russian air force. Last November, General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of the Islamic Republics armed forces, bluntly predicted that Iran will establish a naval base in Syria, akin to the Russian (and once Soviet) naval base at Tartus. This ambition, if implemented, will shift the balance of military power in the Levant and constitute a justification of war for Israel. This was the message Prime Minister Netanyahu communicated to Putin and the Kremlin power-brokers on his recent state visit to Moscow.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, known in Farsi as Pastaran Enkelab, are elite Iranian shock-troopers and the praetorian guard of the Ayatollah http://bit.ly/2nU9hx2

It is doubtful if Russia will or even can restrain Irans military footprint and assets in Syria. For the Kremlin, Iran has/is a current battlefield ally and a lucrative market for Russian arms sales. Moscow knows that the Syrian Army, degraded by battlefield losses and defections, alone cannot hold the war-ravaged cities it has won back from the Sunni rebels without Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters stationed on Syrian soil. An anti-Iranian, pro-Saudi Trump Administration makes the promise of a negotiated Iran withdrawal an unthinkable scenario. Washingtons ability to coordinate with the Kremlin to contain Irans military footprint in Syria has been undermined by the FBIs investigation into the Trump administrations ties to Russia after Putin recklessly subverted the 2016 U.S Presidential Election with his cyber-hacking spies. Moscow has no diplomatic leverage to negotiate with Washington to restrain Iran in Syria.

Geographic location of the Golan Heights http://bit.ly/2oIJ01Y

President Assad has no choice but to grant Iran the use of the Jableh air force base and permission to import thousands of Iraqi, Lebanese and even Afghan Shia militiamen to supplement the chronic manpower shortage of his Syrian Army. An Iranian naval base in Syria will make it far easier for the Revolutionary Guards to transfer ballistic missiles and rockets to Hezbollah in times of crisis with Israel. The Pentagon can also credibly argue that an Iranian maritime presence in Jablah constitutes an embryonic strategic threat to the US Navys Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

The Golan Heights, wrested from Syria by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in the 1967 Six Day War, is another flashpoint of a potential international conflict. Hezbollah fighters and Revolutionary Guard troops have made no secret of their desire to increase their military presence in the Northern Golan. This demonstrates both Iran and Hezbollah want to open a new front with Israel on the Golan Heights, in addition to the existing front in South Lebanon. After all, a Revolutionary Guard and six Hezbollah commanders were killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Golan Heights district of Quneitra in January 2015. Iranian intelligence has even sponsored the creation of the Golan Liberation Front, a militia with Lebanese and Iraqi Shia fighters, clear evidence that Tehran wants to escalate its conflict with Israel in the Golan Heights. The Israeli-Lebanese border has been calm for the past decade after the devastation of the July 2006 War between the IDF and Hezbollah. However, if Irans regime creates a new front on the Golan Heights, Israel will unquestionably launch air strikes against Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard positions on the strategic volcanic highlands that overlook the communities of Galilee in northern Israel.

The Syrian civil war has entered a new, highly dangerous phase a military confrontation between Iran and Israel in the Golan Heights is almost an inevitable scenario. Moscow and Washington are impotent to defuse the latest geopolitical time bomb that has begun to tick in the Middle East. Israel has been unnerved by the deployment of Russian air power and the installation of its S-400 missile system in Syria. Israel no longer can bomb Hezbollah positions in Syria with total impunity and has been unable to prevent Iran from opening another front against the IDF in the Golan Heights. The storm clouds of war have begun to darken again in the Middle East.

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Getting Golan: Israeli-Levantine Tensions Reach Same Old Heights – The McGill International Review

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Myths and misconceptions about Israel and Syrian rebels on the Golan – The Jerusalem Post

In April 2017 news media in Israel and abroad was abuzz with a story that Islamic State affiliates in Syria near the southern Golan apologized to Israel after a clash in November 2016.

I think this claim they apologized to Israel is nonsense, says researcher Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi. Its a garbling of what took place. The garbling wasnt helped by former Israeli defense Minister Moshe Yaalon who had sparked the story in April by characterizing it as an apology.

Al-Tamimi, a researcher at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at IDC Herzliya and a Fellow at Middle East Forum, has written a new report titled Israels relations with the Syrian rebels: An assessment, that clarifies many details regarding recent incidents along Israels Golan border and debunks some myths that have grown up.

The ISIS incident is one of these. In November 2016 a unit of the Army of Khalid bin al-Walid, which is affiliated with ISIS, clashed with Israel.

It was a small unit responded to a perceived infringement of by Israel onto Jaish Khaled [ISIS]s territory. This doesnt mean ISIS apologized. They had this clash and Israel took out the unit in an airstrike and I heard claims they [the local ISIS leadership] were angry about the incident, they felt they had risked triggering too much of an Israeli response, al-Tamimi said in an interview.

He says that the ISIS affiliate is engaged in a war with other Syrian rebels and cannot afford to fight on another front against a power with vastly superior military assets.

Israel also has no interest in sparking a war on the Golan because destroying ISIS on the Golan would require invading Syrian territory. a politically unviable option, al-Tamimi writes in his new report.

The ISIS controversy is like many other stories of pragmatism and power politics. Since Syrians began fighting the Bashar Assad regime in 2011 a multiplicity of rebel groups have become part of the kaleidoscope on the Golan border. That means rocket and mortar fire often spillover, as they did in late June, and Israel responds. It means wounded come to the border and Israel must find a way to maintain relations with who is on the other side.

Al-Tamimi says that besides the Syrian regime and its allies, Israel faces four types of Syrian groups on the Golan. First are those that come under the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army rebels.

These are vetted groups that get support from the Operations Room in Amman in Jordan. Its backed by Jordan, the Gulf States and the West, including the United States.

The second group are local rebels who are independent of the Southern Front but are non-Islamist. I profiled the Fursan al-Jawlan, the Knights of the Golan, its independent.

The Knights of the Golan group is located in the pastoral village of Jubatha al-Khashab which is a few kilometers from Israeli route 98 and the Druze village of Buqata. Al-Tamimis article quotes a source as saying the group has 340 members. This is symbolic of the reality of the Syrian civil war. Most politics is local.

As much as outsiders like to see large blots of ISIS or Syrian rebels on a map, many villages have their own politics and own groups that have affiliated with one side or another, but who still operate only on a local level. Relations with each group and keeping the border area quiet, which is Israels goal and the goal of local civilians, means acknowledging this localized pragmatism.

The third force along the Golan is that of the Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, and and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which used to be known as the Nusra Front and was originally Al Qaeda in Syria.

Al-Tamimi notes that Nusra gets the most polemical attention because of claims Israel supports Nusra. This narrative appeals to agendas that would like a simple story about Israel working with Jihadists against the Syrian regime. But the real story according to al-Tamimi who lived on the Israeli side of the Golan for a year and a half and has spoken with numerous sources in most groups along the border and meticulously reads Arabic sources about them, is more sedate and complex than it is presented.

There is no evidence Israel gives aid to Nusra, some individual fighters might get treatment but no evidence that Israel actively supplies them with aid and cash the way they give aid to Fursan. It is also much weaker than it was three years ago because Jordan only gives aid to other groups. The last group Israel faces is ISIS.

One source Tamimi quotes said that Israel provides medical and humanitarian aid to Fursan al-Jawlan. Diesel fuel was given to work water pumps so the local cattle could drink. Wee been besieged for six years and no one offered us a hand of help in anything. The wounded were dying in front of us, Abu Muhammad told al-Tamimi. His group doesnt see Israel as a friend or ally, but comes for assistance out of necessity.

Although the frontline between the regime and the rebels on the Golan has remained relatively static for years, the regime wants to take back the area, aided by its Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias. Al-Tamimi says that the regime doesnt always flatten towns it re-captures, but finds local solutions he describes as reconciliation.

For instance, they dont force all rebels to disband. They might recruit them to a local pro-government militia affiliated with the National Defense Forces. He says the regime has tried this method along the Golan and groups like the Knights of the Golan reject it.

Another discovery Al-Tamimi made is that the idea Israel uses Syrian rebels as a buffer zone on the Golan is also complex.

There wasnt enough attention paid to Khadr [a Druze village in Syria] and Druze sentiments [in Israel], and what Israel wants.

He says that if Israel really wanted a buffer against Hezbollah then it would have let Syrian rebels take Khadr in 2015 when they tried. But he characterizes Khadr as a red line, that it shouldnt fall to the rebels in deference to the Druze.

In June 2015 an Israeli ambulance carrying a wounded Syrian was attacked in the Druze town of Majdal Shams and the Syrian man was beaten to death.

Druze accused the ambulances of transporting wounded Syrian rebels who were involved in attacking Khadr. So Israel tolerates the presence of hostile forces very near the border, because dislodging them would hurt Druze and create social tensions in Israel.

The concern for Israel is that one day the stalemate on the Golan will change. Al-Tamimi says that its likely a hostile group, such as ISIS or Iranian-backed militias will try to test the waters with Israel, through harassment. It could happen if they decide that the rebels cant defeat us but we cant expand, lets harass Israel.

When the situation ends if the rebels are defeated, will refugees pour over the border fleeing the regime? Al-Tamimi thinks the situation isnt like Lebanon in the 1980 and 90s, Israel isnt trying to influence the character of Syria. He also says that many people dont understand that the Syrian rebels dont like Israel, they see Israel as a lesser evil than the regime. They would never say they are a friend of Israel.

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Myths and misconceptions about Israel and Syrian rebels on the Golan – The Jerusalem Post

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New Delhi TimesIndia’s Only International NewspaperIsraelis in … – New Delhi Times

Israels defense minister says life in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is proceeding normally after a week of above-average spillover incidents from the Syrian civil war next door.

Israeli media have reported that stray shells and gunfire hit the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan at least 16 times during the last week of June. They said the fire originated from battles involving Syrian government forces and rebels in the Quneitra region, on the Syrian-controlled side of the plateau.

Israels military struck back at the sources of the errant fire, which it said did not cause any damage or casualties in Israeli-held territory. Israel has retaliated for several similar incidents in recent years.

Speaking to members of his nationalist Yisrael Beytenu party on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had just returned from a visit to the Golan and found that Israelis there are enjoying quiet and security. The Times of Israel quoted Lieberman as saying that Israeli farmers in the region were continuing to plow their fields, while tourists were braving the hot weather.

Israel captured part of the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it in a move not internationally recognized.

Rebel neighbors

Israeli farmer Erez Zukerman, who lives in the community of Merom Golan and works as a local tour guide, is accustomed to operating meters away from territory controlled by Syrian Islamist rebel groups.

These are our neighbors we dont like to say good or bad neighbors, we like to say stable or unstable, said Zukerman, who gave VOAs Persian service a tour of the Israeli side of the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan, three weeks before the latest spillovers from the conflict.

From a hilltop overlooking Quneitra, the jeep tour, streamed live on Periscope, proceeded to a former Syrian military headquarters captured by Israeli forces in 1967. The derelict building, covered in Israeli graffiti, sits on the northern edge of a U.N.-established demilitarized zone within Israeli-controlled territory.

After exchanging greetings with a young Israeli soldier resting outside the building, the 25-year-old guide drove the jeep into the DMZ, a trapezoid-shaped area consisting mainly of Israeli farmland adjacent to Quneitra, a town abandoned by Syria after the 1967 war.

Look how closely we farm next to Syria, said Zukerman, as he pointed to vineyards and other cultivated fields leading up to a 3-meter-high fence about 200 meters away.

He also said Israeli soldiers largely have ignored the DMZ by patrolling the farmland in recent years, to protect against rebel groups who seized parts of Quneitra despite its location in a U.N.-designated Area of Separation or buffer zone under U.N. observation.

At the southern edge of the DMZ, the situation was calm enough to exit the jeep and walk to within 30 meters of the Quneitra crossing the only concrete post along the cease-fire line. Just ahead of an Israeli checkpoint at the crossing, big yellow signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English warned of mortal danger to anyone who tries to pass the fence.

About a mile that way, youve got groups like al-Qaida, Zukerman said. They have AK-47s, artillery. But we have tanks, jet fighters and attack drones, so theyre not going to do anything.

Threat perception

Zukerman also said Israeli troops do not necessarily open fire when people approach the cease-fire fence from the Syrian-controlled side.

If somebody gets close, we might not shoot, because it could be a civilian seeking medical aid from Israel, he said. So we would send out a patrol unit with a medic, in case you have got to help them.

About 100 meters from the Quneitra crossing is Camp Ziouani, the main base of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan.

Guarding an entrance to the camp was an officer from Fiji, the biggest contributor to the UNDOF mission. He told VOA Persian that the situation had been quiet for most of the 10 months that he had been deployed there.

So far, we have seen clashes between groups in Syria, and sometimes we see Israeli military exercises and deployments, but I have not come across face-to-face fighting, the Fijian officer said. I can say it is a bit safe now.

In a sign that many Israelis also consider the Golan to be relatively safe, dozens of adults and children gathered to swim at a centuries-old, Ottoman-era spring the jeep tours final stop, around 800 meters from Camp Ziouani. The Ein Mokesh spring is surrounded by a minefield, but Israeli troops had cleared a dirt path to the site from a nearby road, enabling it to become a popular local attraction.

Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the Israeli-controlled Golan, which is home to guest houses, nature parks, archaeological sites, a winery and a ski resort.

In a bid to preserve that industry, Defense Minister Lieberman used his public remarks on Monday to urge Israelis to visit the Golan. He also warned armed groups in Syria that Israel would be very angry if they disturb the quiet on the Israeli side, while reiterating Israels position that it does not want to become involved in the Syrian conflict.

Credit : Voice of America (VOA) | Photo Credit: AP

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Factbox: Golan Heights Explained – VOA News – Voice of America

The Golan Heights is a disputed Middle East plateau partly occupied by Israel, which captured some of the territory from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War.

Israel later annexed the part of the Golan Heights under its control, in a move not recognized internationally. Syria tried to reclaim the occupied area by attacking Israel in the 1973 Mideast War, but Israeli forces pushed back the Syrians and held on to it. Damascus has continued to demand a full Israeli withdrawal ever since.

Facts about the Golan Heights:

* Israeli governments held a series of public and secret negotiations with Syria to try to resolve the Golan Heights dispute from 1991 until 2011. Some Israeli negotiators offered at least a partial withdrawal from Israeli-occupied territory in return for peace with Syria, but no deals were reached.

* Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government has toughened its position on the Golan Heights, declaring that Israel will never withdraw from the region and will keep the area it controls under Israeli sovereignty. Many Israelis oppose the idea of handing any of the territory to Damascus, because the Syrian civil war has driven Syrian government forces away from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, creating a vacuum filled by Islamist rebel groups such as al-Qaida.

* Israel marked 50 years of its control in the Golan Heights in June. Since 1967, it has built more than 30 settlements in the territory with a combined population of about 20,000 Israeli civilians who mostly are engaged in agriculture, wine-making, tourism and the preservation of nature and historic Jewish sites. The Israeli-controlled Golan Heights also is home to almost 20,000 indigenous ethnic Druze civilians, most of whom have remained loyal to Syria, and some of whom support President Bashar al-Assad.

* In recent years, fighting in the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights occasionally has spilled over the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line, with gunfire and shells hitting Israeli-controlled territory and triggering Israeli return fire.

* The United Nations has hundreds of international observers stationed along the boundary between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. The cease-fire boundary consists of two lines that run mostly parallel to each other an Alpha or A line separating Israeli and Syrian-controlled territory, and a Bravo or B line to the east. The area in between the Alpha and Bravo lines is an Area of Separation in which Syrian military forces are prohibited from entering. But this area largely has been occupied by rebels in recent years.

* The U.N. also created a small demilitarized zone west of the Alpha line, to keep Israeli military forces away from the abandoned Syrian town of Quneitra in the Area of Separation. This trapezoid-shaped zone, which is marked by an Alpha 1 line, consists mainly of Israeli farmland.

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Liberman says despite flare-up, life continues as normal in Golan Heights – The Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday said it was business as usual in Israels Golan Heights, despite the sporadic errant fire from the Syrian civil war that has hit the strategic plateau in recent weeks.

At the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, Liberman said he toured the Israel-Syrian border Monday morning, reporting that farmers were still plowing their fields, tourists were braving the hot weather and the citizens are continuing in their routines, in peace and security.

He said Israel is not looking for excuses to get involved in the conflict across the border, adding that we will be very, very angry if they disturb this peace and security.

Over the past week and a half, stray fire from battles in Syria has struck Israeli territory some 16 times, including when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was touring the area last week. There were no injuries or damage caused and the prime minister was not in danger.

The IDF has responded to such fire by targeting Syrian army installations, including in a strike last week that reportedly killed two Syrian soldiers. Israel holds the Assad regime responsible for all incidents originating from the war-torn country.

An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)

Liberman also addressed the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip while speaking Monday, saying the Hamas terror group in what may be unprecedented, paid out of its pocket NIS 800 million for power from Egypt. He said Israel has no intention of getting involved, given that its an internal Palestinian fight between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and that even the Gaza residents understand this.

The defense ministers comments regarding the situation in Gaza came amid recent efforts by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to wrest control of from Hamas, a terror group that has ruled the territory ever since driving out Abbass PA forces in a violent coup 10 years ago. The two sides have been at loggerheads ever since.

A recent key development was the PA slashing the amount it pays toward covering Gazas electricity bill amid an ongoing power crisis in the Palestinian enclave. At the PAs request, Israel, which was supplying about 30% of Gazas power needs, has begun scaling back electricity. Hamas vowed there would be severe consequences to the move. However, the situation was partially mitigated after Egypt struck a deal with Hamas and agreed to truck in diesel oil to bring Gazas sole power station back online.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Kehoe rules out withdrawal of Irish troops from Golan Heights – Irish Times

I believe they are doing very important work there on an ongoing basis, Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe said. Photograph: Alan Betson The withdrawal of Irish peacekeeping soldiers from the Golan Heights has been ruled out by Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe. He said no mission came without its dangers and he did not believe a withdrawal would be in the best interests of peacekeeping. I believe they are doing very important work there on an ongoing basis, he added. The soldiers are serving on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitoring a truce between Syria and neighbouring Israel in place since 1974. Heavy machine gun fire from the Syrian civil war has landed in the Irish base and mortar rounds have hit just outside the camp. Israeli defence forces have carried out retaliatory strikes. Mr Kehoe told the Dil he had asked Deputy Chief of Staff Operations, General Brennan, to keep him abreast of all ongoing situations there. He said Ireland was absolutely, steadfastly committed to UN peacekeeping and this informed interactions with all partners at the UN and elsewhere. Fianna Fil spokeswoman Lisa Chambers said reports suggested a full-scale offensive was taking place in Quneitra, less than 2km from the Irish camp. In one instance, she said, the mortar fire landed so close to the Irish base that it shook the ground and Irish troops thought they had been hit. Ms Chambers said informed security sources said at no time were the Irish camp or UN personnel deliberately targeted. I am concerned that there has been no publicity about this and no official response, she added. Independent TD Mick Wallace said Ireland was facilitating the ongoing illegal occupation of the Golan Heights by Israel. The Israeli government recently called for an increase in settlements by 100,000 over the next five years, he added. This is scary. Independent TD Clare Daly said it was an odd type of ceasefire when it was established fact that Israel had been given material aid to ISIS, the Al-Nusra front and others in the Golan Heights. Mr Kehoe said he had answered questions from the media last week, adding his paramount concern was to protect the health and safety of Irish personnel.

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July 11, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Russia Ready To Attack Israel Over Golan Heights Dispute

Russia is prepared to attack Israel in order to help recover the Golan Heights on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Since 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights, Syria has expressed its determination to take it back, and it now has the full support from Russian authorities. According to Wikipedia, Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967. However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory. Awdnews.com reports: Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967. However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory. ************ So LEGALLY the Golan Heights STILL belongs to Syria. But RIGHTLY and SCRIPTURALLY it belongs to Israel. Yes, once again, there is going to be a fight over it but this time Russia will be involved and scripture will be fulfilled. But there is a new twist to the situation, they found huge oil deposits in the Golan heights and this land has now become VERY valuable and Syria is going to want it back. The Syrian government has been losing a lot of land to ISIS and the rebels and now Russia has come into the picture to reclaim this land for Assad. Syria has pretty much been destroyed and it is going to take a lot of money to rebuild the country and the huge oil deposits in the Golan Heights worth BILLIONS of dollars can really help out. Syria is definitely going to want this back because legally according to the international community it is theirs anyway. The problem is this: Israel is NOT going to give up the Golan Heights. After Russia and company clear ISIS out of Syria all Assad has to do is say, While we are at it, lets get the Golan Heights back also. Iran, Hezbollah, Sudan, Libya, Turkey and others would just be chompin at the bits to help drive Israel out of the Golan Heights. And the international community that says it belongs to Syria, has to back Syria in this. Doesnt look to good for Israel. Nevertheless, scripture will be fulfilled and it will all go down as the Lord said it would. In the old testament scriptures, the Golan Heights was known as Bashan. Now for those if you reading this and you are unfamiliar with the holy scripture, there is a prophecy in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 that tells us about this upcoming battle in the Golan Heights. Iran: Terror Attacks Were Joint Saudi-Israel-US Project Weather Channel Founder Blasts CNN Over Global Warming Hoax

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July 10, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Irish troops are forced to take cover in battle – Independent.ie

Sustained fighting between rival anti-government factions outside Camp Ziouani spilled over into the peacekeepers’ compound as bursts of machine gun fire landed inside. Soldiers dived for cover in a protective operation known as groundhog and had to stay inside bunkers for several hours until the shooting subsided. Camp Ziouani is mission headquarters for the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force (UNDOF) on the Golan and part of it is used to house the 136 troops from the Defence Forces. The incidents involving groundhog took place over a 10-day period between June 23 and July 2 as fighting outside the compound between the local groups intensified into a lengthy firefight involving mortars and small arms. Nobody was injured by the rounds, which hit the camp, although the firing was described as “very close”. Fighting between the groups erupts regularly between the factions in an area stretching from 1km to 3km from the camp, in what is meant to be a demilitarised zone. The Irish are part of a UN force, which was sent to the region to monitor a ceasefire agreement between Syria and Israel, and they act as the force reserve component. The Irish have the best armoured protection in the mission as they supply a quick reaction force (QRF), which goes out on patrol from the camp and can be called in to assist UN personnel in danger elsewhere. The QRF, a 30-strong platoon of troops, must be ready at 15 minutes’ notice to respond to an incident, while the Irish also supply a specialist search team of engineers, who can be deployed to clear an area. The groups involved in the latest fighting were not identified but were thought to be affiliates of the al-Nusra Front and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which is said to be linked to Isil.

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July 8, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Netanyahu seeks Russian buffer zone near Golan Heights – World Israel News

Putin greets Netanyahu on March 9, 2017. (YouTube Screenshot) YouTube Screenshot Netanyahu reportedly asked Putin to support a Russian-US buffer zone near Israels Golan Heights region, to keep out Hezbollah and Iran-backed militias. Speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone on Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu requested that Russia and the United States cooperate on a buffer zone in Syria extending eastward from Israels Golan Heights region, as originally reported by the London Times. The Kremlin, meanwhile, confirmed the two leaders phone conversation about Syria. Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation, the Kremlin stated. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria. Specifically, Israel is pushing for an arrangement that would keep Hezbollah or other Iranian-backed militias from having a presence in the zone, which would extend approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) beyond the border. The report added that Israeli officials have been on the sidelines of recent discussions between the US and Russia over the future of Syria. Netanyahus reported request to Putin precedes US President Donald Trumps first face-to-face meeting with Putin, at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany on Friday. For his part, Trump has expressed opposition to Russias continued support of Iran and Syria. On Thursday during an address to the people of Poland, Trump urged Russia to cease its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself. By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News NetanyahuPutinSyriaTrump

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July 7, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Getting Golan: Israeli-Levantine Tensions Reach Same Old Heights – The McGill International Review

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assads Alawite regime would not have survived the Sunni revolt that erupted in 2011 without Irans commitment of Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah fighters to the battlefields in the Levant. Irans political, economic and military support enabled President Assad to defeat legions of Sunni insurgent militias armed and financed by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.Ss Central Intelligence Agency. The House of Assad has been revolutionary Irans closest, most consistent ally in the Arab world and its logistical umbilical cord to Lebanons Hezbollah, the Shite militia Tehran mid-wifed after the 1982 Israeli invasion. Iran has no intention of withdrawing its troops and militia from Syria now that its ally has defeated the rebels in Aleppo after savage bombing campaigns launched by the Russian air force. Last November, General Mohammad Bagheri, the chief of staff of the Islamic Republics armed forces, bluntly predicted that Iran will establish a naval base in Syria, akin to the Russian (and once Soviet) naval base at Tartus. This ambition, if implemented, will shift the balance of military power in the Levant and constitute a justification of war for Israel. This was the message Prime Minister Netanyahu communicated to Putin and the Kremlin power-brokers on his recent state visit to Moscow. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard, known in Farsi as Pastaran Enkelab, are elite Iranian shock-troopers and the praetorian guard of the Ayatollah http://bit.ly/2nU9hx2 It is doubtful if Russia will or even can restrain Irans military footprint and assets in Syria. For the Kremlin, Iran has/is a current battlefield ally and a lucrative market for Russian arms sales. Moscow knows that the Syrian Army, degraded by battlefield losses and defections, alone cannot hold the war-ravaged cities it has won back from the Sunni rebels without Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters stationed on Syrian soil. An anti-Iranian, pro-Saudi Trump Administration makes the promise of a negotiated Iran withdrawal an unthinkable scenario. Washingtons ability to coordinate with the Kremlin to contain Irans military footprint in Syria has been undermined by the FBIs investigation into the Trump administrations ties to Russia after Putin recklessly subverted the 2016 U.S Presidential Election with his cyber-hacking spies. Moscow has no diplomatic leverage to negotiate with Washington to restrain Iran in Syria. Geographic location of the Golan Heights http://bit.ly/2oIJ01Y President Assad has no choice but to grant Iran the use of the Jableh air force base and permission to import thousands of Iraqi, Lebanese and even Afghan Shia militiamen to supplement the chronic manpower shortage of his Syrian Army. An Iranian naval base in Syria will make it far easier for the Revolutionary Guards to transfer ballistic missiles and rockets to Hezbollah in times of crisis with Israel. The Pentagon can also credibly argue that an Iranian maritime presence in Jablah constitutes an embryonic strategic threat to the US Navys Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean. The Golan Heights, wrested from Syria by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in the 1967 Six Day War, is another flashpoint of a potential international conflict. Hezbollah fighters and Revolutionary Guard troops have made no secret of their desire to increase their military presence in the Northern Golan. This demonstrates both Iran and Hezbollah want to open a new front with Israel on the Golan Heights, in addition to the existing front in South Lebanon. After all, a Revolutionary Guard and six Hezbollah commanders were killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Golan Heights district of Quneitra in January 2015. Iranian intelligence has even sponsored the creation of the Golan Liberation Front, a militia with Lebanese and Iraqi Shia fighters, clear evidence that Tehran wants to escalate its conflict with Israel in the Golan Heights. The Israeli-Lebanese border has been calm for the past decade after the devastation of the July 2006 War between the IDF and Hezbollah. However, if Irans regime creates a new front on the Golan Heights, Israel will unquestionably launch air strikes against Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard positions on the strategic volcanic highlands that overlook the communities of Galilee in northern Israel. The Syrian civil war has entered a new, highly dangerous phase a military confrontation between Iran and Israel in the Golan Heights is almost an inevitable scenario. Moscow and Washington are impotent to defuse the latest geopolitical time bomb that has begun to tick in the Middle East. Israel has been unnerved by the deployment of Russian air power and the installation of its S-400 missile system in Syria. Israel no longer can bomb Hezbollah positions in Syria with total impunity and has been unable to prevent Iran from opening another front against the IDF in the Golan Heights. The storm clouds of war have begun to darken again in the Middle East. Like Loading…

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July 6, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Myths and misconceptions about Israel and Syrian rebels on the Golan – The Jerusalem Post

In April 2017 news media in Israel and abroad was abuzz with a story that Islamic State affiliates in Syria near the southern Golan apologized to Israel after a clash in November 2016. I think this claim they apologized to Israel is nonsense, says researcher Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi. Its a garbling of what took place. The garbling wasnt helped by former Israeli defense Minister Moshe Yaalon who had sparked the story in April by characterizing it as an apology. Al-Tamimi, a researcher at the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs at IDC Herzliya and a Fellow at Middle East Forum, has written a new report titled Israels relations with the Syrian rebels: An assessment, that clarifies many details regarding recent incidents along Israels Golan border and debunks some myths that have grown up. The ISIS incident is one of these. In November 2016 a unit of the Army of Khalid bin al-Walid, which is affiliated with ISIS, clashed with Israel. It was a small unit responded to a perceived infringement of by Israel onto Jaish Khaled [ISIS]s territory. This doesnt mean ISIS apologized. They had this clash and Israel took out the unit in an airstrike and I heard claims they [the local ISIS leadership] were angry about the incident, they felt they had risked triggering too much of an Israeli response, al-Tamimi said in an interview. He says that the ISIS affiliate is engaged in a war with other Syrian rebels and cannot afford to fight on another front against a power with vastly superior military assets. Israel also has no interest in sparking a war on the Golan because destroying ISIS on the Golan would require invading Syrian territory. a politically unviable option, al-Tamimi writes in his new report. The ISIS controversy is like many other stories of pragmatism and power politics. Since Syrians began fighting the Bashar Assad regime in 2011 a multiplicity of rebel groups have become part of the kaleidoscope on the Golan border. That means rocket and mortar fire often spillover, as they did in late June, and Israel responds. It means wounded come to the border and Israel must find a way to maintain relations with who is on the other side. Al-Tamimi says that besides the Syrian regime and its allies, Israel faces four types of Syrian groups on the Golan. First are those that come under the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army rebels. These are vetted groups that get support from the Operations Room in Amman in Jordan. Its backed by Jordan, the Gulf States and the West, including the United States. The second group are local rebels who are independent of the Southern Front but are non-Islamist. I profiled the Fursan al-Jawlan, the Knights of the Golan, its independent. The Knights of the Golan group is located in the pastoral village of Jubatha al-Khashab which is a few kilometers from Israeli route 98 and the Druze village of Buqata. Al-Tamimis article quotes a source as saying the group has 340 members. This is symbolic of the reality of the Syrian civil war. Most politics is local. As much as outsiders like to see large blots of ISIS or Syrian rebels on a map, many villages have their own politics and own groups that have affiliated with one side or another, but who still operate only on a local level. Relations with each group and keeping the border area quiet, which is Israels goal and the goal of local civilians, means acknowledging this localized pragmatism. The third force along the Golan is that of the Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, and and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which used to be known as the Nusra Front and was originally Al Qaeda in Syria. Al-Tamimi notes that Nusra gets the most polemical attention because of claims Israel supports Nusra. This narrative appeals to agendas that would like a simple story about Israel working with Jihadists against the Syrian regime. But the real story according to al-Tamimi who lived on the Israeli side of the Golan for a year and a half and has spoken with numerous sources in most groups along the border and meticulously reads Arabic sources about them, is more sedate and complex than it is presented. There is no evidence Israel gives aid to Nusra, some individual fighters might get treatment but no evidence that Israel actively supplies them with aid and cash the way they give aid to Fursan. It is also much weaker than it was three years ago because Jordan only gives aid to other groups. The last group Israel faces is ISIS. One source Tamimi quotes said that Israel provides medical and humanitarian aid to Fursan al-Jawlan. Diesel fuel was given to work water pumps so the local cattle could drink. Wee been besieged for six years and no one offered us a hand of help in anything. The wounded were dying in front of us, Abu Muhammad told al-Tamimi. His group doesnt see Israel as a friend or ally, but comes for assistance out of necessity. Although the frontline between the regime and the rebels on the Golan has remained relatively static for years, the regime wants to take back the area, aided by its Hezbollah and Iranian-backed militias. Al-Tamimi says that the regime doesnt always flatten towns it re-captures, but finds local solutions he describes as reconciliation. For instance, they dont force all rebels to disband. They might recruit them to a local pro-government militia affiliated with the National Defense Forces. He says the regime has tried this method along the Golan and groups like the Knights of the Golan reject it. Another discovery Al-Tamimi made is that the idea Israel uses Syrian rebels as a buffer zone on the Golan is also complex. There wasnt enough attention paid to Khadr [a Druze village in Syria] and Druze sentiments [in Israel], and what Israel wants. He says that if Israel really wanted a buffer against Hezbollah then it would have let Syrian rebels take Khadr in 2015 when they tried. But he characterizes Khadr as a red line, that it shouldnt fall to the rebels in deference to the Druze. In June 2015 an Israeli ambulance carrying a wounded Syrian was attacked in the Druze town of Majdal Shams and the Syrian man was beaten to death. Druze accused the ambulances of transporting wounded Syrian rebels who were involved in attacking Khadr. So Israel tolerates the presence of hostile forces very near the border, because dislodging them would hurt Druze and create social tensions in Israel. The concern for Israel is that one day the stalemate on the Golan will change. Al-Tamimi says that its likely a hostile group, such as ISIS or Iranian-backed militias will try to test the waters with Israel, through harassment. It could happen if they decide that the rebels cant defeat us but we cant expand, lets harass Israel. When the situation ends if the rebels are defeated, will refugees pour over the border fleeing the regime? Al-Tamimi thinks the situation isnt like Lebanon in the 1980 and 90s, Israel isnt trying to influence the character of Syria. He also says that many people dont understand that the Syrian rebels dont like Israel, they see Israel as a lesser evil than the regime. They would never say they are a friend of Israel. Share on facebook

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July 6, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

New Delhi TimesIndia’s Only International NewspaperIsraelis in … – New Delhi Times

Israels defense minister says life in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights is proceeding normally after a week of above-average spillover incidents from the Syrian civil war next door. Israeli media have reported that stray shells and gunfire hit the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan at least 16 times during the last week of June. They said the fire originated from battles involving Syrian government forces and rebels in the Quneitra region, on the Syrian-controlled side of the plateau. Israels military struck back at the sources of the errant fire, which it said did not cause any damage or casualties in Israeli-held territory. Israel has retaliated for several similar incidents in recent years. Speaking to members of his nationalist Yisrael Beytenu party on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he had just returned from a visit to the Golan and found that Israelis there are enjoying quiet and security. The Times of Israel quoted Lieberman as saying that Israeli farmers in the region were continuing to plow their fields, while tourists were braving the hot weather. Israel captured part of the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War and later annexed it in a move not internationally recognized. Rebel neighbors Israeli farmer Erez Zukerman, who lives in the community of Merom Golan and works as a local tour guide, is accustomed to operating meters away from territory controlled by Syrian Islamist rebel groups. These are our neighbors we dont like to say good or bad neighbors, we like to say stable or unstable, said Zukerman, who gave VOAs Persian service a tour of the Israeli side of the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line in the Golan, three weeks before the latest spillovers from the conflict. From a hilltop overlooking Quneitra, the jeep tour, streamed live on Periscope, proceeded to a former Syrian military headquarters captured by Israeli forces in 1967. The derelict building, covered in Israeli graffiti, sits on the northern edge of a U.N.-established demilitarized zone within Israeli-controlled territory. After exchanging greetings with a young Israeli soldier resting outside the building, the 25-year-old guide drove the jeep into the DMZ, a trapezoid-shaped area consisting mainly of Israeli farmland adjacent to Quneitra, a town abandoned by Syria after the 1967 war. Look how closely we farm next to Syria, said Zukerman, as he pointed to vineyards and other cultivated fields leading up to a 3-meter-high fence about 200 meters away. He also said Israeli soldiers largely have ignored the DMZ by patrolling the farmland in recent years, to protect against rebel groups who seized parts of Quneitra despite its location in a U.N.-designated Area of Separation or buffer zone under U.N. observation. At the southern edge of the DMZ, the situation was calm enough to exit the jeep and walk to within 30 meters of the Quneitra crossing the only concrete post along the cease-fire line. Just ahead of an Israeli checkpoint at the crossing, big yellow signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English warned of mortal danger to anyone who tries to pass the fence. About a mile that way, youve got groups like al-Qaida, Zukerman said. They have AK-47s, artillery. But we have tanks, jet fighters and attack drones, so theyre not going to do anything. Threat perception Zukerman also said Israeli troops do not necessarily open fire when people approach the cease-fire fence from the Syrian-controlled side. If somebody gets close, we might not shoot, because it could be a civilian seeking medical aid from Israel, he said. So we would send out a patrol unit with a medic, in case you have got to help them. About 100 meters from the Quneitra crossing is Camp Ziouani, the main base of the U.N. Disengagement Observer Force, or UNDOF, in the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan. Guarding an entrance to the camp was an officer from Fiji, the biggest contributor to the UNDOF mission. He told VOA Persian that the situation had been quiet for most of the 10 months that he had been deployed there. So far, we have seen clashes between groups in Syria, and sometimes we see Israeli military exercises and deployments, but I have not come across face-to-face fighting, the Fijian officer said. I can say it is a bit safe now. In a sign that many Israelis also consider the Golan to be relatively safe, dozens of adults and children gathered to swim at a centuries-old, Ottoman-era spring the jeep tours final stop, around 800 meters from Camp Ziouani. The Ein Mokesh spring is surrounded by a minefield, but Israeli troops had cleared a dirt path to the site from a nearby road, enabling it to become a popular local attraction. Tourism is one of the biggest industries in the Israeli-controlled Golan, which is home to guest houses, nature parks, archaeological sites, a winery and a ski resort. In a bid to preserve that industry, Defense Minister Lieberman used his public remarks on Monday to urge Israelis to visit the Golan. He also warned armed groups in Syria that Israel would be very angry if they disturb the quiet on the Israeli side, while reiterating Israels position that it does not want to become involved in the Syrian conflict. Credit : Voice of America (VOA) | Photo Credit: AP

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Factbox: Golan Heights Explained – VOA News – Voice of America

The Golan Heights is a disputed Middle East plateau partly occupied by Israel, which captured some of the territory from Syria in the 1967 Mideast War. Israel later annexed the part of the Golan Heights under its control, in a move not recognized internationally. Syria tried to reclaim the occupied area by attacking Israel in the 1973 Mideast War, but Israeli forces pushed back the Syrians and held on to it. Damascus has continued to demand a full Israeli withdrawal ever since. Facts about the Golan Heights: * Israeli governments held a series of public and secret negotiations with Syria to try to resolve the Golan Heights dispute from 1991 until 2011. Some Israeli negotiators offered at least a partial withdrawal from Israeli-occupied territory in return for peace with Syria, but no deals were reached. * Since the Syrian conflict began in 2011, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus government has toughened its position on the Golan Heights, declaring that Israel will never withdraw from the region and will keep the area it controls under Israeli sovereignty. Many Israelis oppose the idea of handing any of the territory to Damascus, because the Syrian civil war has driven Syrian government forces away from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, creating a vacuum filled by Islamist rebel groups such as al-Qaida. * Israel marked 50 years of its control in the Golan Heights in June. Since 1967, it has built more than 30 settlements in the territory with a combined population of about 20,000 Israeli civilians who mostly are engaged in agriculture, wine-making, tourism and the preservation of nature and historic Jewish sites. The Israeli-controlled Golan Heights also is home to almost 20,000 indigenous ethnic Druze civilians, most of whom have remained loyal to Syria, and some of whom support President Bashar al-Assad. * In recent years, fighting in the Syrian-controlled Golan Heights occasionally has spilled over the Israeli-Syrian cease-fire line, with gunfire and shells hitting Israeli-controlled territory and triggering Israeli return fire. * The United Nations has hundreds of international observers stationed along the boundary between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights. The cease-fire boundary consists of two lines that run mostly parallel to each other an Alpha or A line separating Israeli and Syrian-controlled territory, and a Bravo or B line to the east. The area in between the Alpha and Bravo lines is an Area of Separation in which Syrian military forces are prohibited from entering. But this area largely has been occupied by rebels in recent years. * The U.N. also created a small demilitarized zone west of the Alpha line, to keep Israeli military forces away from the abandoned Syrian town of Quneitra in the Area of Separation. This trapezoid-shaped zone, which is marked by an Alpha 1 line, consists mainly of Israeli farmland.

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Liberman says despite flare-up, life continues as normal in Golan Heights – The Times of Israel

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday said it was business as usual in Israels Golan Heights, despite the sporadic errant fire from the Syrian civil war that has hit the strategic plateau in recent weeks. At the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, Liberman said he toured the Israel-Syrian border Monday morning, reporting that farmers were still plowing their fields, tourists were braving the hot weather and the citizens are continuing in their routines, in peace and security. He said Israel is not looking for excuses to get involved in the conflict across the border, adding that we will be very, very angry if they disturb this peace and security. Over the past week and a half, stray fire from battles in Syria has struck Israeli territory some 16 times, including when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was touring the area last week. There were no injuries or damage caused and the prime minister was not in danger. The IDF has responded to such fire by targeting Syrian army installations, including in a strike last week that reportedly killed two Syrian soldiers. Israel holds the Assad regime responsible for all incidents originating from the war-torn country. An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY) Liberman also addressed the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip while speaking Monday, saying the Hamas terror group in what may be unprecedented, paid out of its pocket NIS 800 million for power from Egypt. He said Israel has no intention of getting involved, given that its an internal Palestinian fight between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and that even the Gaza residents understand this. The defense ministers comments regarding the situation in Gaza came amid recent efforts by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to wrest control of from Hamas, a terror group that has ruled the territory ever since driving out Abbass PA forces in a violent coup 10 years ago. The two sides have been at loggerheads ever since. A recent key development was the PA slashing the amount it pays toward covering Gazas electricity bill amid an ongoing power crisis in the Palestinian enclave. At the PAs request, Israel, which was supplying about 30% of Gazas power needs, has begun scaling back electricity. Hamas vowed there would be severe consequences to the move. However, the situation was partially mitigated after Egypt struck a deal with Hamas and agreed to truck in diesel oil to bring Gazas sole power station back online. Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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July 3, 2017   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed


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