An Israeli Attack on a Strategic Outpost in Syria Suggests Russia Isn’t Keeping Its Word

June 13 2019

On Tuesday night, Israel appears to have struck a military base on Tel al-Hara, a mountain overlooking the Golan Heights that is the highest point in the area. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:

For decades, Tel al-Hara has served as an intelligence base for the Syrian army, as well as for Iran and Russia, whose forces operate there with Syria’s permission. . . . In late 2018, the Syrian army—with Russian assistance—took control of the area [from al-Qaeda-linked rebels], including Tel al-Hara. According to an Israeli agreement with the Russians, only the Syrian army is allowed to remain in the region, while Hizballah, Iran, and the other Shiite militias operating on its behalf were to be pushed back at least 80 kilometers east of the Damascus-Daraa road, which runs close to Tel al-Hara.

The agreement was honored initially, and only the Syrian army used the mountain. . . . It is however fair to assume that [now] Hizballah, the Iranians, and their proxies in Tel al-Hara intend to use it to gather intelligence for a variety of purposes: to facilitate future infiltrations into Israeli territory and attacks on civilian and military targets; to aim missiles, rockets, and artillery; to monitor IDF and IAF activity as well as deployments that could indicate whether Israel is planning an operation that may disrupt Iranian and Hizballah plans. . . .

Israel had announced several times that it would not allow the consolidation of an Iranian-led radical Shiite front in Syria. The attack may also have served to remind the Russians to ensure that the mediated understandings it has reached with Israel, the U.S., and Jordan are to be honored. If not, Israel would have to take care of the problem itself. Russian military police units are stationed on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, who could easily ascertain the facts on the ground at Tel al-Hara.

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Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war

Israeli Indecision on the Palestinian Issue Is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness

Oct. 11 2019

In their recent book Be Strong and of Good Courage: How Israel’s Most Important Leaders Shaped Its Destiny, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky—who both have had long careers as Middle East experts inside and outside the U.S. government—analyze the “courageous decisions” made by David Ben-Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzḥak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon. Not coincidentally, three of these four decisions involved territorial concessions. Ross and Makovsky use the book’s final chapter to compare their profiles in courage with Benjamin Netanyahu’s cautious approach on the Palestinian front. Calling this an “almost cartoonish juxtaposition,” Haviv Rettig Gur writes:

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli history, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict