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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Jihadist Threat Rising on Israel’s Northern Border

If Assad, Hezbollah and Iran have become allies of the Islamic State what does that mean for Israel?
Along the Israel-Syrian border.

Along the Israel-Syrian border.
Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman / Flash 90

Events on the other side of Israel’s northern border are heating up, and the government is watching closely. The IDF is beefing up its force along the border to ensure that citizens in the region are protected.

The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) terrorist faction issued three demands early Tuesday (Sept. 2) for the return of 44 Fiji UN peacekeepers abducted by the group last Wednesday. The group is demanding to be removed from the UN terrorist list, it wants humanitarian aid delivered to parts of Damascus, and money — financial compensation for three of its fighters that it claims were killed in a shootout with UN peacekeepers. (In other words, shot by the UN peacekeepers in self-defense when the terrorists attacked the UN Disengagement Observer Force. It’s a known fact this force never fires first.)

Al Nusra is also engaged in a fierce struggle with Syria government forces fighting to retake control over the strategic town of Quneitra, where the sole crossing into Israel lies. The terror group has already seized control of the crossing; heavy battles before and since have sent mortar shells and other artillery flying into Israel’s side of the Golan Heights.

Last week Kiryat Shmona and several other communities were forced into high alert due to the situation. In three separate attacks, at least two people were wounded, including a soldier and a kosher supervisor, and two vehicles were damaged. IDF troops returned fire to the Syrian side of the border, aiming at the source of the attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned visiting U.S. Congress members on Monday that the United Nations would be far better served to focus its energies on dealing with the growing jihadist threat, rather than repeatedly investigating Israel’s efforts to counter terror attacks against its civilians. (A new UN Human Rights Commission probe committee a la Goldstone, headed by anti-Israel Canadian law professor William Schabas, is expected to begin shortly.)

“We’re closely following the events on the Golan Heights where al Nusra terrorists have kidnapped UN peacekeepers,” Netanyahu told U.S. Representatives Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) on Monday. “What we see is that al Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah – backed by Iran, Al Qaeda and these other terrorist groups are basically defying all international norms, breaking them whether in Lebanon, in Syria or in Gaza. I think the UN would do itself a great favor if, instead of the automatic Israel bashing, they actually turn their attention and their investigative committees against these terrorists who trample every norm on which the UN was founded.”

Rohrbacher concurred, saying that Israel was the sole force for a “long-term peace for this region.” He added that the rest of the Middle East is “awash in tyranny and injustice and gangsterism and terrorism that’s coming from the top, from these people that are running the various organizations, radical Islamic organizations.”

But while Israel and at least most U.S. lawmakers agree on the jihadi threat to the region – and much of the Western world – France and Saudi Arabia seem to be in the process of exacerbating the problem.

The two are close to signing a $3 billion arms deal that would provide new military equipment and weapons to the Lebanese army. This, while the White House has thrown every possible obstacle in the path of normal processing for military-to-military supplies from the U.S. to Israel.

If the Lebanese army were entirely independent boosting its supplies would be a great idea, especially given the current jihadi threat on its border with Syria. But unfortunately a third of Lebanon’s governing cabinet is comprised of ministers from the Hezbollah terrorist organization, which has gone to fight with the army of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ditto for the parliament, which also is packed with Hezbollah lawmakers. How unlikely is it, therefore, that at least some – if not most – of these weapons will end up in terrorist hands?

Rachel Levy

About the Author: Rachel Levy is a freelance journalist who has written for Jewish publications in New York, New Jersey and Israel.


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