The Old Syria Is Back, This Time Accompanied by Hizballah, Iran, and Russia

In the final week of 2017, Hizballah, supported by Assad-regime forces and an Iranian unit, seized most of the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights from the rebel forces that had controlled it for some time. Eyal Zisser believes that the rest of southern Syria will soon follow, and that Israel will have to adjust once again to sharing a border with an Assad-ruled Syria:

The Syrian regime and its allies’ campaign to retake the [Syrian] Golan Heights is a violation of the understandings reached by the United States and Russia just a month ago. This agreement, which focuses on establishing a buffer zone (or safe zone) in southern Syria, promised relative protection and immunity for the rebel groups. Agreements and reality, however, are nothing alike, certainly in this part of the world.

Russia, as we know, honors agreements only when they align with its interests. Moscow has no compunction signing a deal and the next day violating or simply ignoring it. The Assad regime and its allies are unconcerned with such agreements, which are merely another aspect of their deceitful ploy of speaking yearningly about peace while continuing the fighting on the ground, using [such] tactics to . . . restore full control [of all of Syria].

Israel was right to refrain from establishing a military presence on Syrian soil. But the collapse of the security zone [free of pro-Assad forces] in southern Syria is not the only issue: crumbling along with it is the assumption that the war in Syria would go on for years, and that Syria would never resemble its old self. It appears, [instead], that the old Syria has returned to Israel’s border more quickly than expected—more dangerous and more imposing than before. This is due to the presence of Hizballah and Iran, which the world, and certainly Russia, views as a stabilizing and positive factor that should remain for the foreseeable future.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Golan Heights, Hiballah, Iran, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7