The U.S., and the World, Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

March 7 2019

Last week, parallel bills were introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate that would formally acknowledge Israel’s claim to the Golan. Zvi Hauser explains that such a move is justified politically, strategically, historically, and morally:

Iran’s presence in Syria is a done deal . . . The border between Israel and Iran, between the West and radical Islam, now passes through the Golan Heights. Iranian militias, looking a lot like Hizballah, are digging into bases on the border with the Golan, the Shiite population in the area grows larger, and rocket supplies threaten the Israeli residents of the Golan Heights and the eastern Galilee. The Iranian leadership clearly realizes that the way to challenge Israel’s security isn’t necessarily by [conventional] warfare but by asymmetric conflict, deploying terrorist organizations and militias that spark skirmishes along the border and attack the civilian population. . . .

Jewish history in the Golan began as soon as the Israelites entered the land of Canaan, as the book of Joshua tells us. . . . Jewish settlement in the Golan grew and thrived in the end of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th centuries BCE with the return of the Jewish exiles from Babylon. In 67 CE, three years before the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple, the Golan witnessed the battle of Gamla, which was part of the Jewish rebellion against Rome. . . . Archaeological digs in the Golan have thus far revealed the remains of 25 synagogues that operated between the Jewish rebellion in the 1st century CE and the Muslim conquest in the mid-7th century CE, as well as evidence of numerous Jewish villages and communities. . . .

Syria controlled the Golan for 21 years—as opposed to 52 years of Israeli control. In those 21 years, it encouraged terrorist organizations to use the entire Golan as a base of operations for terrorist attacks against Israel, ceaselessly bombarded communities around the Sea of Galilee and close to the border, used the Golan as a strategic base from which continuously to threaten Israel, [and] attempted to divert the Golan’s water sources, hoping to deny Israel vital waters it needed for drinking and agriculture. . . .

There is no other horizon for the Golan Heights save for the Israeli horizon.

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More about: Golan Heights, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Syria, US-Israel relations

Despite What the UN Says, the Violence at the Gaza Border Is Military, Not Civilian, in Nature

March 22 2019

On Monday, a UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry issued its final report on last spring’s disturbances at the Gaza border. Geoffrey Corn and Peter Margulies explain why the report is fatally flawed:

The commission framed the events [in Gaza] as a series of demonstrations that were “civilian in nature.” Israel and its Supreme Court, [which has investigated some of the killings that occurred], framed the same events quite differently: as a new evolution in Israel’s ongoing armed conflict with the terrorist organization Hamas. Consistency and common sense suggest that the Israeli High Court of Justice’s framing is a more rational explanation of what occurred at the Israel-Gaza border in spring 2018.

Kites, [for instance], played a telltale role [in the violence]. When most people think of kites, they think of a child’s plaything or a hobbyist’s harmless passion. In the Gaza confrontation, kites [became] a new and effective, albeit low-tech, tactic for attacking Israel. As the report conceded, senior Gaza leaders, including from Hamas, “encouraged” the unleashing of waves of incendiary kites that during and since the spring 2018 confrontations have burned thousands of acres of arable land within Israel. The resulting destruction included fires that damaged the Kerem Shalom border crossing, which conveys goods and gasoline from Israel to Gaza. . . .

Moreover, the incendiary-kite offensive was an effective diversion from the efforts encouraged and coordinated by Hamas last spring to pierce the border with Israel and attack both IDF personnel and the civilian residents of the beleaguered Israeli towns a short distance from the border fence. . . .

The commission also failed to acknowledge that Hamas sought to use civilians as an operational cover to move members of its armed wing into position along the fence. For IDF commanders, this increased the importance of preventing a breach [in the fence]. Large crowds directly along the fence would simplify breakthrough attempts by intermingled Hamas and other belligerent operatives. The crowds themselves also could attempt to pour through any breach. Unfortunately, the commission seems to have completely omitted any credible assessment of the potential casualties on all sides that would have resulted from IDF action to seal a breach once it was achieved. . . .

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Laws of war, UNHRC, United Nations