IDF forces are on high alert in the Golan Heights, carefully scrutinizing the border with Syria, as opposition forces begin to consider a new target: Israel.
Syrian rebels have penetrated the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating Syria from Israel. The status of the area respected by both Israel and Syria since the end of the Yom Kippur War, though both are technically still at war, is apparently respected no longer.
In a video posted Saturday on the Internet by Syrian opposition forces, the rebels are seen in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights DMZ, firing guns right next to a U.N. sign specifically stating the area is a demilitarized zone. Another, similar video shows the rebel forces traveling in a vehicle within the DMZ, with a spokesperson saying, “We are now in front of the occupied Golan, the blessed land sold by [former President] Hafez Assad. “For 40 years, not a single gunshot has been fired on this land. For 40 years not a single gunshot has been fired towards Israel,” the rebel spokesman added.
Last week’s kidnapping of 21 United Nations Filipino peacekeeping soldiers within the DMZ by a group of 30 rebels made it clear that era is over. Member nations are more skittish about allowing their troops, who carry light arms only, to remain in what is now clearly a danger zone.
Meanwhile Israeli troops are providing security for military engineers and private contractors who are rushing to complete Israel’s new northern border security fence. New alarm systems armed with a special fiber that activates at the slightest touch are being added to the fence.
Additional troops have been sent to back up the Golani Brigade, select special forces, the Oketz combat canine unit, and artillery forces already on the Heights who are constantly patrolling the area.
The barrier fence is being installed as an extra layer of security in the chaos that is expected to follow the probable fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Syrian rebel forces – many of whom are hostile to Israel – are advancing towards the Golan Heights, military sources have said, and are threatening to retake the region from Israel.
The rebel forces are comprised of two factions.
One is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), represents the Western-backed mainstream Syrian National Council (SNC), which is supported by the United States, the UK and France.
The second, a radical jihadist group, is the 13-member Islamic Front for the Liberation of Syria. Many of its members are terrorist organizations, a number of which are linked to Al Qaeda and global jihad. They are dedicated to installing a government led by Shari’a (Islamic law), in much the same style as Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Neither is a friend of the Jewish State. It remains unclear as to whether either could have gained access to Assad’s chemical weapons arsenal, or has already done so.