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Jerusalem - WSJ: Israel Secretly Giving Aid To Syrian Rebels

Published on: June 18, 2017 09:00 PM
By: Jerusalem Post
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Israeli soldiers take part in an exercise in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner Israeli soldiers take part in an exercise in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria, March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Jerusalem - Israel has been secretly providing aid to Syrian rebels groups in the Golan Heights for years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday night.

According to the Journal, Israel has offered rebel groups medical supplies, food, funding and even hard cash in order to safeguard the country’s border from the ever-deepening crisis taking place in Israel’s northern neighbor Syria, which is suffering from the consequences of the bloody and grueling civil war raging in the country since 2011.

Israel’s motivation behind its continued and discreet assistance was to stave off attacks from Iranian proxies operating in Syria such as Shi’ite terror organization Hezbollah, the Journal explained, basing the reasoning on similar claims that were associated with unnamed sources.

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The report alleged that the aid was mainly provided via a military unit set up in the IDF and tasked with supporting independent rebel groups that do not receive help from other Western powers. The funds directed to the groups are used to purchase ammunition and to pay fighters.

The Journal based its report on interviews with rebel soldiers and other sources. A spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan spoke to the Journal and praised Israel for helping his group. “We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance,” Moatasem al-Golani was quoted as saying. “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” he added.

The Journal report said that the Fursan al-Joulan rebel group was the main one to coordinate its activities with Israel, and has reportedly started this collaboration back in 2013. The group, which is reported to be comprised of 400 members, has worked with other groups in the area that have also enjoyed Israel’s assistance.

Israel has been providing the group with a monthly stipend estimated at 5,000 USD, the Journal reported, citing the group’s commander as its source.

The Journal contacted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office for comment, and was referred to the IDF.

According to the Journal, the IDF refrained from commenting on the report that it has been operating a unit tasked with the mission to help the rebel groups, but did say that it was “committed to securing the borders of Israel and preventing the establishment of terror cells and hostile forces… in addition to providing humanitarian aid to the Syrians living in the area.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad has accused Israel in the past of supporting the rebel groups, to which his regime refers as terrorists.

Contrarily, the Syrian opposition has claimed in the past that Israel was actually collaborating with Iran and Hezbollah to help Assad maintain his power.

Israel has been openly helping Syrian refugees for years, mostly by providing medical aid to injured or displaced people. The IDF has in the past set up field hospitals along the border to help injured Syrians, and since 2013 when the country first started to offer aid it has treated some 3,000 wounded Syrians.



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Read Comments (5)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 18, 2017 at 10:38 PM Anonymous Says:

I want to know more about who these "Fursan al-Joulan" people are. The name indicates that they are a local Golan Heights group, which would mean that they are possibly from local Druze families, and possibly are just interested in keeping peace in their villages, not necessarily caring at all whether Assad remains in power. If this is correct, then part of Israel's interest in supporting them would be that those Druze families include Druze Israeli citizens (who serve in the army with distinction, btw), and peaceful law-abiding Druze under occupation in the Golan. The 1967 war split many families along the armistice line there, the families do their best to look out for their own, and Syria/Israel have historically made concessions to them to cross the border for family events, etc.

I realize that there's a lot of equivocating in that first paragraph. The nafka mina is important, though, because it's the difference between Israel getting involved in overthrowing Assad, or Israel trying to keep the border region peaceful for the local Druze (eg. against al-nusra, hizbollah, etc), regardless of who 'wins' the civil war.

2

 Jun 19, 2017 at 08:57 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

I want to know more about who these "Fursan al-Joulan" people are. The name indicates that they are a local Golan Heights group, which would mean that they are possibly from local Druze families, and possibly are just interested in keeping peace in their villages, not necessarily caring at all whether Assad remains in power. If this is correct, then part of Israel's interest in supporting them would be that those Druze families include Druze Israeli citizens (who serve in the army with distinction, btw), and peaceful law-abiding Druze under occupation in the Golan. The 1967 war split many families along the armistice line there, the families do their best to look out for their own, and Syria/Israel have historically made concessions to them to cross the border for family events, etc.

I realize that there's a lot of equivocating in that first paragraph. The nafka mina is important, though, because it's the difference between Israel getting involved in overthrowing Assad, or Israel trying to keep the border region peaceful for the local Druze (eg. against al-nusra, hizbollah, etc), regardless of who 'wins' the civil war.

The nafkamina is take a cup of coffee and go to bed

3

 Jun 19, 2017 at 12:12 PM triumphinwhitehouse Says:

Urban warfare is dangerous bomb the place instead.

4

 Jun 19, 2017 at 01:48 PM EducatedArchy Says:

We need to plug the leakers and drain the swamp. This should not be public news.

5

 Jun 19, 2017 at 03:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
EducatedArchy Says:

We need to plug the leakers and drain the swamp. This should not be public news.

You can't drain a swamp when you adding to it.

6

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