• Dozens are killed in air strikes attributed to Israel in Syria. But who’s counting?
    Gideon Levy | Sep. 3, 2020 | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium.highlight-dozens-are-killed-in-air-strikes-attributed-to-israel-in

    They are the most boring and low-priority reports of all. Most Israeli media outlets don’t even bother to post them. They are like a bus plunging into a river in Nepal, like victims in Chad’s civil war or trapped mine workers in Siberia.

    The same applies to the victims of yet another Israeli air strike in Syria. Who’s heard about it? Who knows about it, who cares? Who has the energy to look into it? Military correspondents parrot, as is their wont, unfounded statements dictated by military spokesmen, with diplomatic correspondents celebrating in the Emirates, while on Monday night 11 more people are killed in a raid in southern Syria, attributed to Israel. On Wed night, Syria reported another strike.

    According to the Damascus Center for Human Rights, three of the victims were Syrian soldiers and seven were “Iranian militia operatives,” which automatically justifies any bombing. A female villager was also killed and her husband wounded, but these things happen, after all. A dead woman in Syria really is a non-story.

    Are these air strikes essential? What is their goal? What are the risks they entail? What is being bombed and why? It’s Iran, you know. Everything is done under a thick smokescreen, with Israeli media openly and gleefully collaborating, with no one stopping to ask questions or bringing it up for discussion. The sun rises in the east, and Israel bombs in Syria. What is not clear here? What is not self-evident? Only those who understand nothing or know nothing dare ask questions.

    The army spokesman, in response to the strike: “The IDF is working day and night to ensure that its strategic goals in the northern arena are met in an appropriate fashion.” We seem to be satisfied with this blah-blah. It’s hard to think of a greater insult to one’s intelligence. After all, the IDF is also working day and night in the West Bank, where we’re familiar with the results and with the modus operandi, but the media and public opinion will swallow anything. As long as not one hair of a Jewish soldier’s head is touched, nothing is of interest. Go ahead, bomb Syria, bomb Lebanon, bomb Iran, bomb Gaza, to your heart’s content.

    Every few weeks there is an air strike in Syria, usually with lethal results. On July 20, five deaths were reported in a strike in Damascus. On June 23, five Iranians and two Syrians were killed in an attack attributed to Israel. On June 4, there were nine victims in a bombing by warplanes firing from Lebanese airspace, attributed to Israel, not to Luxembourg. On February 7, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that an IDF attack in Damascus had endangered a passenger plane with 172 people on board. Three months earlier, there were reports of 23 fatalities and dozens of wounded in an air strike attributed to Israel.

    Only imagine 11 Israeli fatalities, three soldiers and seven settler militia members, in a Syrian air strike, in a mirror image of what transpired this week in Syria. War would ensue. But 11 Syrian dead in an Israeli bombing, who’s counting? Imagine a constant bloodletting with dozens of Israeli fatalities over several months. Israel would never put up with it, and rightly so. But in Syria it’s all right. It will go on as long as Israel can continue. It will go on until Israel pays a price for its strikes.

    Israel is determined to prevent Iran from getting a foothold in Syria. Are the strikes contributing to this process? To what extent? The possibility that Israel will one day pay a terrible price for all this warmongering is not even raised for discussion. That’s Israeli hubris, which usually pays off. Usually, but not always.

    Such fateful decisions cannot be kept in absolute darkness. They cannot be left up to a handful of politicians, intelligence officials, pilots and generals. After all, we’ve learned in many areas that we can’t trust them blindly. So why is it that when it comes to war and peace, we shut our eyes, submitting ourselves to them in total blindness? Continue bombing in Syria. We trust you. Everything will be fine.

    #IsraelSyrie

  • Syria says Israel fired missiles on areas south of Damascus
    Associated Press•August 31, 2020
    https://news.yahoo.com/syria-says-israel-fired-missiles-202510338.html

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian military official said Israel’s military fired missiles Monday night on areas south of the capital Damascus.

    The unnamed military official gave no further details adding that Syrian air defenses opened fire on “hostile targets.”

    It was not clear what the targets were but state TV said the strikes were carried by warplanes flying Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The air raids started shortly before 11 p.m. (2000 GMT).

    Residents of the capital Damascus said they heard explosions south of the city.

    An opposition war monitor said Israel’s military targeted military posts south of Damascus. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian air defenses were responding to the attack.

    Israel rarely comments on such reports, but is believed to have carried out scores of raids targeting Iran’s military presence in Syria. In the past three months alone, Syria has accused Israel of carrying out at least eight air raids on its territory. The last reported strikes came on July 20.

    Iran is a key ally of the Syrian government in the nearly decade-long civil war. Israel views Iran as a regional menace and has vowed to prevent any permanent Iranian military buildup in Syria, particularly near the frontier.

    In recent months, Israeli officials have also expressed concern that Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Lebanese militant group that operates in Syria, is trying to establish facilities to produce precision-guided missiles. Tensions have also risen along the Israel-Lebanon border.

    During last month’s strikes on Syria, a Hezbollah member was killed and the Lebanese militant group vowed to retaliate against Israel. On Sunday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed to kill Israeli soldiers whenever they kill Hezbobllah fighters in Syria.

    #IsraelSyrie

  • Israeli Air Force Kills Two, Injures Nine, In Damascus
    November 12, 2019 10:53 AM – IMEMC News
    https://imemc.org/article/israeli-air-force-kills-two-injures-nine-in-damascus

    The Israeli Air Force carried out, on Tuesday at dawn, several air strikes targeting a senior leader of the Palestinian airstrikesihad in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing two, including his son, and injuring nine others, among them the grandson of the slain leader.

    The al-Mayadeen News Agency has reported that the Israeli Air Force struck the home of Akram al-Ajjouri with two missiles.

    It added that the missiles caused excessive damage to the home, and several surrounding buildings, killing Akram’s son, Moath al-‘Ajjouri , and wounding his granddaughter.

    The strike also led to the death of Abdullah Yousef Hasan, and the injury of eight other civilians.

    Israeli missiles also struck a building near the Lebanese Embassy, in the western district of the Syrian capital, where many diplomatic missions and Damascus University are located.

    #IsraelSyrie
    #Palestine_assassinée

    • https://imemc.org/article/tuesday-army-kills-four-palestinians-injures-25-in-gaza

      It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army also attempted to assassinate a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing two, including his son, and injuring nine others, among them the grandson of the leader.

      The al-Mayadeen News Agency has reported that the Israeli Air Force struck the home of Akram al-Ajjouri with two missiles, killing his son Moath , and wounding his granddaughter. The strike also led to the death of Abdullah Yousef Hasan, and the injury of eight other civilians.

  • Syrie : des bombardements aériens, israéliens selon Damas, font quatre morts - moyen orient
    Par RFI Publié le 01-07-2019
    Avec notre correspondant à Beyrouth, Paul Khalifeh
    http://www.rfi.fr/moyen-orient/20190701-syrie-bombardements-aeriens-israeliens-selon-damas-font-quatre-morts

    Des missiles tirés par des avions dans la nuit de dimanche à lundi ont fait au moins quatre morts civils, dont un nouveau-né, et 21 blessés, selon l’agence officielle syrienne Sana.

    Des chasseurs-bombardiers probablement israéliens ont tiré plus d’une vingtaine de missiles à partir de l’espace aérien libanais vers des cibles à l’intérieur de la Syrie. Le vrombissement des avions était perceptible dans plusieurs régions du Mont-Liban et une série d’explosions ont été entendues dans les zones frontalières entre les deux pays.

    Des sources militaires syriennes citées par l’agence officielle Sana ont indiqué que la défense anti-aérienne a abattu plusieurs missiles israéliens qui se dirigeaient vers des cibles dans les régions de Damas et dans la province centrale de Homs. Mais d’autres projectiles ont atteint leurs cibles et ont fait des victimes et des dégâts, notamment dans la localité de Sahnaya, au sud-ouest de Damas. Des explosions ont été entendues dans le ciel de la ville où des habitants ont pu voir le départ d’au moins une dizaine de missiles tirés par la défense anti-aérienne vers des cibles qui approchaient de la capitale.

    #IsraelSyrie

    • Damas accuse Israël de « terorrisme d’Etat » après des frappes meurtrières
      Par Le Figaro avec AFP Mis à jour le 02/07/2019
      http://www.lefigaro.fr/flash-actu/damas-accuse-israel-de-terorrisme-d-etat-apres-des-frappes-meurtrieres-2019

      (...) « Les autorités israéliennes pratiquent de plus en plus le terrorisme d’Etat », a déclaré le ministère des Affaires étrangères syrien dans un communiqué rapporté par Sana. « La dernière agression odieuse s’inscrit dans le cadre des tentatives constantes d’Israël de prolonger la crise en Syrie », a-t-il ajouté.

      Après l’attaque, le ministère des Affaires étrangères syriennes a porté plainte auprès du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU, selon Sana. Les actes « hostiles » d’Israël n’auraient pas été possibles sans le soutien de ses alliés à Washington, a ajouté l’agence. Selon l’OSDH, les frappes de dimanche ont touché des positions iraniennes près de Damas et visé un centre de recherche et un aéroport militaire à l’ouest de la ville de Homs où des combattants du Hezbollah chiite libanais et des Iraniens sont déployés. (...)

  • Israel just admitted arming anti-Assad Syrian rebels. Big mistake - Middle East News
    Haaretz.com - Daniel J. Levy Jan 30, 2019 5:03 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-israel-just-admitted-arming-anti-assad-syrian-rebels-big-mistake-1

    In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed, on the record, that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions in the Golan Heights by arming them.

    This revelation marks a direct break from Israel’s previous media policy on such matters. Until now, Israel has insisted it has only provided humanitarian aid to civilians (through field hospitals on the Golan Heights and in permanent healthcare facilities in northern Israel), and has consistently denied or refused to comment on any other assistance.

    In short, none other than Israel’s most (until recently) senior serving soldier has admitted that up until his statement, his country’s officially stated position on the Syrian civil war was built on the lie of non-intervention.

    As uncomfortable as this may initially seem, though, it is unsurprising. Israel has a long history of conducting unconventional warfare. That form of combat is defined by the U.S. government’s National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 as “activities conducted to enable a resistance movement or insurgency to coerce, disrupt or overthrow an occupying power or government by operating through or with an underground, auxiliary or guerrilla force in a denied area” in the pursuit of various security-related strategic objectives.

    While the United States and Iran are both practitioners of unconventional warfare par excellence, they primarily tend to do so with obvious and longer-term strategic allies, i.e. the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance fighters in Afghanistan, and various Shia militias in post-2003 Iraq.

    In contrast, Israel has always shown a remarkable willingness to form short-term tactical partnerships with forces and entities explicitly hostile to its very existence, as long as that alliance is able to offer some kind of security-related benefits.

    The best example of this is Israel’s decision to arm Tehran during the Iran-Iraq War, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strong anti-Zionist rhetoric and foreign policy. During the 1980s, Iraq remained Jerusalem’s primary conventional (and arguably existential) military threat. Aiding Tehran to continue fighting an attritional war against Baghdad reduced the risk the latter posed against Israel.

    Similarly, throughout the civil war in Yemen in the 1960s, Israel covertly supported the royalist Houthi forces fighting Egyptian-backed republicans. Given Egypt’s very heavy military footprint in Yemen at the time (as many as a third of all Egyptian troops were deployed to the country during this period), Israelis reasoned that this military attrition would undermine their fighting capacity closer to home, which was arguably proven by Egypt’s lacklustre performance in the Six Day War.

    Although technically not unconventional warfare, Israel long and openly backed the South Lebanon Army, giving it years of experience in arming, training, and mentoring a partner indigenous force.

    More recently, though, Israel’s policy of supporting certain anti-Assad rebel groups remains consistent with past precedents of with whom and why it engages in unconventional warfare. Israel’s most pressing strategic concern and potential threat in Syria is an Iranian encroachment onto its northern border, either directly, or through an experienced and dangerous proxy such as Hezbollah, key to the Assad regime’s survival.

    For a number of reasons, Israel committing troops to overt large-scale operations in Syria to prevent this is simply unfeasible. To this end, identifying and subsequently supporting a local partner capable of helping Israel achieve this strategic goal is far more sensible, and realistic.

    Open source details of Israel’s project to support anti-Assad rebel groups are sparse, and have been since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war.

    Reports of this first arose towards the end of 2014, and one described how United Nations officials had witnessed Syrian rebels transferring injured patients to Israel, as well as “IDF soldiers on the Israeli side handing over two boxes to armed Syrian opposition members on the Syrian side.” The same report also stated that UN observers said they saw “two IDF soldiers on the eastern side of the border fence opening the gate and letting two people enter Israel.”

    Since then, a steady stream of similar reports continued to detail Israeli contacts with the Syrian rebels, with the best being written and researched by Elizabeth Tsurkov. In February, 2014 she wrote an outstanding feature for War On The Rocks, where she identified Liwaa’ Fursan al-Jolan and Firqat Ahrar Nawa as two groups benefiting from Israeli support, named Iyad Moro as “Israel’s contact person in Beit Jann,” and stated that weaponry, munitions, and cash were Israel’s main form of military aid.

    She also describes how Israel has supported its allied groups in fighting local affiliates of Islamic State with drone strikes and high-precision missile attacks, strongly suggesting, in my view, the presence of embedded Israeli liaison officers of some kind.

    A 2017 report published by the United Nations describes how IDF personnel were observed passing supplies over the Syrian border to unidentified armed individuals approaching them with convoys of mules, and although Israel claims that these engagements were humanitarian in nature, this fails to explain the presence of weaponry amongst the unidentified individuals receiving supplies from them.

    Writing for Foreign Policy in September 2018, Tsurkov again detailed how Israel was supporting the Syrian rebel factions, stating that material support came in the form of “assault rifles, machine guns, mortar launchers and transport vehicles,” which were delivered “through three gates connecting the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to Syria - the same crossings Israel used to deliver humanitarian aid to residents of southern Syria suffering from years of civil war.” She also dates this support to have begun way back in 2013.

    The one part of Israel’s involvement in the Syrian Civil War which has been enthusiastically publicised, though, has been its ongoing humanitarian operations in the Golan. Dubbed “Operation Good Neighbor,” this was established in June 2016, and its stated aim is to “provide humanitarian aid to as many people as possible while maintaining Israel’s policy of non-involvement in the conflict.”

    Quite clearly, this is - at least in parts - a lie, as even since before its official commencement, Israel was seemingly engaging with and supporting various anti-Assad factions.

    Although Operation Good Neighbor patently did undertake significant humanitarian efforts in southern Syria for desperate Syrian civilians (including providing free medical treatment, infrastructure support, and civilian aid such as food and fuel), it has long been my personal belief that it was primarily a smokescreen for Israel’s covert unconventional warfare efforts in the country.

    Although it may be argued that deniability was initially necessary to protect Israel’s Syrian beneficiaries who could not be seen to be working with Jerusalem for any number of reasons (such as the likely detrimental impact this would have on their local reputation if not lives), this does not justify Israel’s outright lying on the subject. Instead, it could have mimicked the altogether more sensible approach of the British government towards United Kingdom Special Forces, which is simply to restate their position of not commenting, confirming, or denying any potentially relevant information or assertions.

    Israel is generous in its provision of humanitarian aid to the less fortunate, but I find it impossible to believe that its efforts in Syria were primarily guided by altruism when a strategic objective as important as preventing Iran and its proxies gaining a toehold on its northern border was at stake.

    Its timing is interesting and telling as well. Operation Good Neighbor was formally put in place just months after the Assad regime began its Russian-backed counter-offensive against the rebel factions, and ceased when the rebels were pushed out of southern Syria in September 2018.

    But it’s not as if that September there were no longer civilians who could benefit from Israeli humanitarian aid, but an absence of partners to whom Israel could feasibly directly dispatch arms and other supplies. Although Israel did participate in the rescue of a number of White Helmets, this was done in a relatively passive manner (allowing their convoy to drive to Jordan through Israeli territory), and also artfully avoided escalating any kind of conflict with the Assad’s forces and associated foreign allies.

    Popular opinion - both in Israel and amongst Diaspora Jews - was loud and clear about the ethical necessity of protecting Syrian civilians (especially from historically-resonant gas attacks). But it’s unlikely this pressure swung Israel to intervene in Syria. Israel already had a strong interest in keeping Iran and its proxies out southern Syria, and that would have remained the case, irrespective of gas attacks against civilians.

    Although Israel has gone to great lengths to conceal its efforts at unconventional warfare within the Syrian civil war, it need not have. Its activities are consistent with its previous efforts at promoting strategic objectives through sometimes unlikely, if not counter-intuitive, regional partners.

    Perhaps the reason why Eisenkot admitted that this support was taking place was because he knew that it could not be concealed forever, not least since the fall of the smokescreen provided by Operation Good Neighbor. But the manner in which Israel operated may have longer-term consequences.

    Israel is unlikely to change how it operates in the future, but may very well find future potential tactical partners less than willing to cooperate with it. In both southern Lebanon and now Syria, Israel’s former partners have found themselves exposed to dangers borne out of collaboration, and seemingly abandoned.

    With that kind of history and record, it is likely that unless they find themselves in desperate straits, future potential partners will think twice before accepting support from, and working with, Israel.

    For years, Israel has religiously adhered to the official party line that the country’s policy was non-intervention, and this has now been exposed as a lie. Such a loss of public credibility may significantly inhibit its abilities to conduct influence operations in the future.

    Daniel J. Levy is a graduate of the Universities of Leeds and Oxford, where his academic research focused on Iranian proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine. He lives in the UK and is the Founding Director of The Ortakoy Security Group. Twitter: @danielhalevy

    #IsraelSyrie

  • Israël va intensifier ses opérations contre l’Iran en Syrie
    20 décembre 2018 Par Agence Reuters
    https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/201218/israel-va-intensifier-ses-operations-contre-liran-en-syrie?onglet=full

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israël intensifiera ses opérations contre les forces pro-iraniennes en Syrie après le retrait des soldats américains de ce pays, a déclaré jeudi le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu.

    La décision du président Donald Trump de retirer les forces américaines de Syrie, annoncée mercredi, pourrait inciter les Iraniens à s’engager encore plus dans ce pays en y envoyant encore des armes et de combattants, ont indiqué des responsables israéliens.

    L’Etat juif craint aussi que le retrait militaire américain ne réduise les moyens de pression diplomatique de Washington sur la Russie, principal soutien du gouvernement de Damas.

    « Nous continuerons à agir très vigoureusement contre les tentatives de l’Iran de s’installer en Syrie », a assuré Benjamin Netanyahu à la télévision, faisant référence aux frappes aériennes menées par Israël contre les forces iraniennes et contre le Hezbollah libanais en Syrie.

    « Nous n’avons pas l’intention de réduire nos efforts. Nous allons les intensifier et je sais que ce sera avec le total soutien des Etats-Unis. »

    #IsraelSyrie

  • Syrie : raid israélien contre un site militaire du régime
    Belga - Publié à 20h37
    https://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/detail_syrie-raid-israelien-contre-un-site-militaire-du-regime?id=9978682

    Un raid aérien israélien a visé dimanche une « position militaire » du régime de Bachar al-Assad dans l’ouest de la Syrie, ont rapporté les médias d’Etat syriens.

    « Une de nos positions militaires à Massyaf a essuyé une agression aérienne israélienne », a rapporté l’agence de presse officielle Sana, citant une source militaire qui rapporte « uniquement des dégâts matériels ».

    Une porte-parole de l’armée israélienne s’est refusée à tout commentaire alors que l’Etat hébreu confirme rarement ses incursions militaires chez son voisin syrien.

    « Le site visé dimanche est un atelier supervisé par les Iraniens, où sont fabriqués des missiles sol-sol à courte portée », a de son côté affirmé l’Observatoire syrien des droits de l’Homme (OSDH), une ONG qui dispose d’un vaste réseau de sources dans la Syrie en guerre.

    #IsraëlSyrie