To Russia With Love

~ By Gideon Levy

"For the first time in years another state is saying to #Israel: Stop right there. At least in Syria, that’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia.

A ray of hope is breaking through: Someone is setting limits on Israel. For the first time in years another state is making it clear to Israel that there are restrictions to its power, that it’s not okay for it to do whatever it wants, that it’s not alone in the game, that America can’t always cover for it and that there’s a limit to the harm it can do.

Israel needed someone to set these limits like it needed oxygen. The recent years’ hubris and geopolitical reality enabled it to run rampant. It could patrol #Lebanon’s skies as if they were its own; bombard in Syria’s air space as if it were #Gaza’s air space; destroy Gaza periodically, put it under endless siege and continue, of course, to occupy the West Bank. Suddenly someone stood up and said: Stop right there. At least in Syria: That’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia, for setting limits on a child whom no one has restrained for a long time.

The Israeli stupefaction at the Russian response and the paralysis that gripped it only showed how much Israel needed a responsible adult to rein it in. Does anyone dare prevent Israel’s freedom of movement in another country? Is anyone hindering it from flying in skies not its own? Is anyone keeping it from bombing as much as it pleases? For decades Israel hasn’t encountered such a strange phenomenon. Israel Hayom reported, of course, that anti-Semitism is growing in Russia. Israel is getting ready to play the next victim card, but its arrogance has suddenly gone missing.

In April the Bloomberg News agency cited threats from retired Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and other officers that if Russia gives Syria S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Israel’s air force would bombard them. Now the voice of bluster from Zion has been muted, at least for the moment.

Every state is entitled to have weapons for defense against jet bombers, including Syria, and no state is permitted to prevent that forcibly. This basic truth already sounds bizarre to Israeli ears. The idea that other countries’ sovereignty is meaningless, that it can always be disrupted by force, and that Israeli sovereignty alone is sacred, and supreme; that Israel can mix in the affairs of the region to its heart’s content – including by military intervention, whose true extent is yet to be clarified in the war in Syria – without paying a price, in the name of its real or imagined security, which sanctifies anything and everything – all this has suddenly run into a Russian “nyet.” Oh, how we needed that nyet, to restore Israel to its real dimensions.

It arrived with excellent timing. Just when there’s a president in the White House who runs his Middle East policy at the instructions of his sponsor in Las Vegas and mentor on Balfour Street; when Israel feels itself in seventh heaven, with an American embassy in Jerusalem and no UNRWA, soon without the Palestinians – came the flashing red light from Moscow. Perhaps it will balance out, just a bit, the intoxication with power that has overtaken Israel in recent years, maybe it will start to wise up and recover.

Russia, without meaning to, may yet turn out to be better for Israel than all the insane, corrupting support it receives from the current American administration, and from its predecessors, too.
Russia has outlined for the world the way to treat Israel, using the only language Israel understands. Let those who truly care for Israel’s welfare, and for justice, learn how it’s done: Only by force. Only when Israel gets punished or is forced to pay a price does it do the right thing. The air force will think twice now and perhaps many times more before its next bombardment in Syria, whose importance, if indeed it has any, is unknown.

Had such a Russian “nyet” hovered above Gaza’s skies, too, so much futile death and destruction would have been spared. Had an international force faced the Israeli occupation, it would have ended long ago. Instead, we have Donald Trump in Washington and the European Union’s pathetic denunciations of the evictions at Khan al-Ahmar."

28 September 2018




The Israeli army has admitted, for the first time, that it provided large amounts of cash, weapons and ammunition to Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.

While the IDF maintains that it was not intervening in Syria’s civil war, on Monday it confirmed that as part of Operation Good Neighbor Israel had been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border with light weapons and ammunition in order to defend themselves from attacks and a substantial amount of cash to buy additional arms.

Through Operation Good Neighbor, which was launched in 2016 the Israeli military had provided over 1524 tons of food, 250 tons of clothes, 947,520 liters of fuel, 21 generators, 24,900 palettes of medical equipment and medicine.

Reports first surfaced of Israel providing arms and cash to rebel groups several years ago, with the regime of Bashar Assad claiming that Israel had been providing arms to terror groups and its forces had regularly seized arms and munitions with inscriptions in Hebrew.

According to reports Israel had been arming at least seven different rebel groups in Syria’s Golan Heights, including the Fursan al-Joulan rebel group which had around 400 fighters and had been given an estimated $5,000 per month by Israel.

“Israel stood by our side in a heroic way,” the group's spokesperson, Moatasem al-Golani, told the The Wall Street Journal in a January 2017 report. “We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance.”

The army believes that the decision to provide weapons and cash to the rebel groups along the border with Israel’s Golan Heights was the right decision.

Israel’s aim in providing the weapons and cash to rebel groups throughout Operation Good Neighbor which shut down once the Assad regime retook control of the Golan Heights in July, was to keep troops belonging to Hezbollah and Iran away from Israel’s Golan Heights.

The Syrian army, backed by Russian air power and Iranian backed Shiite militia fighters, have been recapturing large swathes of territory and is now believed to have control over 70% of the war-torn country.

While Syrian troops have once again been deployed to the border with Israel, in order to prevent an escalation between the two enemy countries, Russian military police have been deployed along the Golan Heights border along with UN Peacekeepers.

Israel has warned against Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and has stressed time and again that Syrian soil can not serve as a forward operating base by Iran and that the war-torn country cannot be a waystation for arms smuggling to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

While Israel’s military had been carrying out operation against Iranian targets in Syria for several years, it’s extent only became public after an Israeli Air Force F-16 which was taking part in retaliatory strikes was downed by Syrian air defenses in February.

Last year Former Israel Air Force head Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amir Eshel stated that the IAF carried out 100 airstrikes in Syria over the past five years.

On Monday the military announced that in the past year and half alone, Israel has carried out 202 strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria.

It’s official; Israel has armed extremists in Syria to extend its control of occupied Golan

The Jerusalem Post briefly published an article earlier this month stating that the Israeli army has now admitted “that it provided large amounts of cash, weapons, and ammunition to Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.” I say “briefly” because it was not long before the article was summarily deleted from the newspaper’s website, without any editorial note or explanation. There are still some copies of the article online. (Also here:

While both the Post and the Israeli army have refused to comment on the article or why it was sent hurtling rapidly down the Memory Hole, it seems likely that it was censored by the military.

The Israeli army operates a powerful influence on the country’s media through its military censorship office. Officers can decide in the “national interest” that anything published in the local media can be censored without much – or anything – in the way of explanation. These sweeping powers are, of course, yet another reminder why – contrary to its propaganda — Israel is no real democracy at all.

For those paying attention, the article didn’t really tell us much new. Israel has for years been aiding, funding and arming extremist groups in the Golan Heights, Syrian territory which Israel has occupied illegally for decades. UN reports and foreign journalists – quoting Israeli military personnel – demonstrated this as long ago as 2015. The groups that Israel has aided in the area have included armed extremists linked to Al-Qaeda.

The Jerusalem Post journalist who wrote the article claimed that this is the “the first time” that the Israeli army has admitted to providing “large amounts of cash, weapons, and ammunition to Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights.” This is not exactly accurate, seeing as how Israeli press reportsin February gave fairly large chunks of detail on the number of rebel groups in the Golan that Israel was arming; it was then said to be seven and more recently rose to 12. Furthermore, Israeli army personnel speaking to foreign media have admitted to aiding extremist rebels in the Golan, even if they attempted to justify this in certain ways.

Nonetheless, in the deleted report, the Jerusalem Post did claim that the Israeli army “confirmed that as part of Operation Good Neighbour, Israel had been regularly supplying Syrian rebels near its border [sic – the ceasefire line] with light weapons and ammunition” as well as “a substantial amount of cash to buy additional arms.”

While army spokespeople have come out and said this before, this does seem to have been the first time that they have said so openly, in an Israeli publication. That the military censor seems to have ordered the report deleted now suggests that the spokesperson’s comments to the Post were likely to have been intended as off-the-record or background comments. Either that or the report just generated too much negative publicity.

The “Good Neighbour” reference was to Israel’s propaganda term for attempts over the past few years to extend its occupation of much of the Golan into a wider “buffering” zone in southern Syria via the use of local armed proxy forces and other front groups.

Nevertheless, there is no question that Israel has been arming these groups in Syria, including those allied to, or actively part of Al-Qaeda. The question is, why did the report come out now? One doesn’t have to look far for the answer.

During the summer, the Syrian army, backed by Russia, retook the area from the armed groups. Some of their members then fled to Israel. The new Israeli occupation zone in southern Syria now seems to have come to an end, with the announcement earlier this month that so-called “Operation Good Neighbour” is to shut down.

The attempt to create a “buffer” zone which effectively extended the Israeli army’s illegal occupation of the Golan Heights further into southern Syria was always spun in Israeli propaganda as a “humanitarian aid” gesture to treat civilians in hospitals. However, as I have detailed in columns for years, it has long been apparent that Israel was, in fact, aiding and arming rebel groups – including Al-Qaeda – as part of its official strategic objective in the Syrian civil war to “let both sides” bleed.

It is to be welcomed that Israel’s attempt to extend its control over southern Syria seems to have failed. The repercussions of this cynical policy, though, will continue for years to come.

by Asa Winstanley