Israel extremely nervous over Russian operations on its Golan border
On the outside, Israel is all smiles and full of praise for way the coordination with Moscow is working for averting clashes between its air force and Russian warplanes over Syria. This goodwill was conspicuous in the compliments Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Vladimir Putin traded when they met on the sidelines of the Paris climate summit Monday, Nov. 30.
But the first disquieting sign appeared Tuesday, Dec. 1. Senior Russian and Israeli officers were due to meet in Tel Aviv to discuss strengthening the cooperation between the two army commands. But no word from Moscow or Jerusalem indicated whether the meeting had taken place.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that this week, the show of optimism is giving way to an uneasy sensation in the offices of the prime minister, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott. They suspect an ulterior motive behind Russia’s military movements in southern Syria, especially its air strikes against Syrian rebels, just across from Israel’s Golan border.
In particular, Moscow may be giving Hizballah and Iran an umbrella for achieving their longstanding design to displace the Syrian rebels with Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah forces and deploy them along Israel’s Golan border.
This suspicion gained ground when Tuesday, Dec. 1, the day after the Putin-Netanyahu encounter, the combined Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah units expanded their thrust from the southern Syrian town of Deraa to the Golan town of Quneitra, within sight of Israel’s defense positions.
All that day, heavy battles raged over the rebel-held line of hills running from a point just south of Quneitra to the Israeli-Syrian-Jordanian border junction. The combined force was supported by Russian air strikes and heavy tanks and artillery, seen for the first time in this war arena.
When the fighting resumed Wednesday, the IDF placed its Golan units on high alert and an extra-vigilant eye was trained on this battle.
The Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah side is gaining a distinct advantage from the deep feud dividing rebel ranks. The Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Syrian Nusra Front forces are tearing into each other with suicide bombers and explosive cars. Tuesday, an ISIS-rigged car bomb blew up at Nusra headquarters near Quneitra (see photo).
But this also means that an Islamic State force has come dangerously close to the Israeli border.
However, even more perils are in store if Bashar Assad’s army backed by Iran, Hizballah and Russia manages to capture the hills opposite the Golan:
1. Two years of unrelenting Israeli
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