In an interview with Sophie Shevardnadze on the RT program Sophie and Co Lieutenant-General Benjamin Gantz, the 20th Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces said that Israel “cannot jeopardize our security interests” and that the presence of Hezbollah and Iran in Syria is “endanger(ing) Israel security.”
The state of Israel is in something approaching a state of panic as their favored jihadists fail to make any ground in Syria, instead finding themselves in the crosshairs of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies as they free the Damascus area of terrorist militias and focus their eyes on liberating the south of Syria, a south which includes the occupied Golan Heights, violently seized and occupied by Israel for 50 years.
The turnaround in the war on Syria which has transformed in the space of the last three years from the ominous threat of the black flag of ISIS flying in Damascus, to it and its takfiri allies relying on Israel for survival is not what Israel expected and raises the very real possibility of a campaign to liberate the Golan which may be the natural outflow of armed conflict taking place between Israel, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria.
Gantz is right to worry about Israel’s security, but he is wrong like so many others in the rogue state of Israel that it acts in self-defense and that its actions are designed to protect the security of Israel. There are a number of steps Israel could take to boost its security which involves respecting the security of others, not least the Palestinians it brutally occupies.
Giving up The Golan Heights
Giving up on plans to further colonize the Golan Heights is the best, most long-lasting move and is a prerequisite for peaceful co-existence with Syria. The occupation of the strategically vital area is in breach of international law and the government of Bashar Al-Assad will never recognize Israel control of the area, demanding its return. This is one of the reasons Israel has been an active player in the war on Syria in a bid to remove Assad from power. It has acted as the air force of ISIS and Al-Qaeda hoping to do a grand bargain with any future reactionary, sectarian rulers to formally annex the territory.
The Golan Heights contains water and oil resources which Israel coverts. Its contempt for international law, the rights of Syrians in the Golan Heights and its willingness to steal land and resources makes a coming war inevitable unless it gives up its claims. It is a bulwark against Syria and Hezbollah, the “northern region” Gants often refers to in the interview as though he is referring to northern Israel and not Southern Syria.
Israel has come to rely on the rich water resources in the region which supplies it with over a third of its fresh water made available to Israelis. It is not a resource it is willing to give up on and any future war will in part be a war for water, along with a battle for oil. The toothless nature of the international community in not taking many steps apart from symbolic ones to remove Israel obligates Syria to liberate the land itself.
On the heels of Russia’s intervention on the side of Syria September 2015, Israel announced the discovery of a large amount of oil in the Golan Heights. The Netanyahu regime had already granted exclusive oil and gas exploration rights in 2013 to Genie Energy, a company which has on its board Zionists and neocons such as Dick Cheney, James Woolsey, Bill Richardson, Jacob Lord Rothschild, Rupert Murdoch, Larry Summers and Michael Steinhardt. It was just one of the dirty deals done which lies behind the long-held Israel/US plans to remove Assad and replace him with a puppet government, culminating in the 2011 foreign fueled uprising, an invasion effected from abroad and far from the revolution of freedom spun in the western media.
Such a discovery makes the Golan even more of a strategic asset with Israel making moves to fortify its defenses, move settlers in and support terrorists in nearby locations which act at the very least as buffer forces and if all went according to plan, part of the forces that would overthrow Assad. It has become even more imperative for Israel to sow destruction within Syria and it has become frustrated at the failure of its proxies who are retreating toward the Golan rather than advancing to Damascus.
Defending “Security” by Overthrowing the Government of Your Neighbor
Israel has always had the full backing of the US in its expansionist plans, none more so than failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. One of her leaked emails, published by WikiLeaks, stated that “the best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad.” Thankfully the detestable Clinton, who helped funnel weapons, including chemical ones into Syria from Libya to continue the “Arab Spring,” did not become President. We should not, however, be thankful for the ascension of Donald Trump who serves Israel just as, if not more faithfully than Clinton.
What country apart from a rogue one seeking to overthrow the government of its neighbor can claim that over 100 air strikes since 2012 against Syria, while it is engaged in a war for its survival, is acting in self-defense and doesn’t seek conflict with Syria as Gantz claims? The arrogance of Israel and disregard for condemnation of its actions have even included air strikes on Damascus Airport, a civilian facility and therefore a clear act of illegal and unprovoked aggression.
Moreover, the strikes are provoking Iran and Syria into a wider war, a trap the allies have wisely avoided as their energy is spent on defeating the hordes of western, Gulf State and crucially Israel backed terrorists. So defeating its proxies is, in essence, landing a blow on Israel.
The title of unchallenged regional bully was seriously challenged when Syrian air defenses shot down an F16 jet which violated Syrian airspace and ironically crashed in the Galilee, part of historic Palestine. A serious message was sent to Tel Aviv from Damascus that the age of impunity was over and it could expect their jets to be targeted in future air strikes. A newly confident Syria had drawn a line in the sand and said enough is enough. Pending delivery of the S300 missile defense system from Russia discussed later, should give Israel more reason for sober reflection on its actions and reassess provocations that seek to draw Syria and Iran into direct conflict with it.
At least that is how the script should read for Syrians who have endured over six years of strikes from Israel which believes not only the Golan is theirs, but all of Syria’s airspace is theirs too. But Israel, goading war with Syria and ultimately Iran did not get the message. The message could have been reinforced to a point Israel actually realized there was a red line and that every time it was crossed there would be a price to pay if Moscow did a little less “balancing” and showed a bit of its indisputable muscle to Israel.
But no, turning the other cheek seems to have become standard practice for the government of Vladimir Putin. Turkey shooting down an SU24: turn the other cheek. The US killing Russian military contractors: The same. A Russian general killed by targeted mortar fire on the banks of the Euphrates by ISIS or possibly the SDF: More of the same. US air strikes killing Syrian soldiers as they fight ISIS: The predictable cheek turning.
So it is no surprise that Israel continued unabated with an air strike launched from Lebanese airspace on 8 April on the T4 airbase in Homs, killing more military personnel in an airbase which is vital for operations against various terrorist groups.
Worse yet, overnight what is believed to be another Israeli air attack targeted the 47th Brigade ammunition depot east of the city of Hama, the Fire Fighters Centre west of Hama and a military position around Aleppo Airport. Reports are that over 20 military personnel have been killed and it comes at a time when the government had reached an evacuation deal in southern Damascus with Jaish al-Islam, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and Jaish al-Abadali. This is symbolic of Israel’s actions in support of terrorists which hinder the ability of the Syrian army to achieve these victories and free areas under terrorist control.
So it appears as though Putin telling Netanyahu that he will not agree to rein Iran in makes little difference to the regime in Israel. It deliberately targets Iranian personnel legally invited into Syria to aid in the fight against terrorism. Once there they are targeted by Israel acting to defend terrorists. Yet we are led to believe Iran has malign influence in the Middle East and French president Emmanuel Macron has capitulated to Donald Trump and his cabal of neocons in calling for a renegotiation of the Iran nuclear deal.
Israel has recently boosted support to at least 7 different terrorist groups in the southern areas of Syria after the money from the CIA run program has dried up. Worried about the advances south of the Syrian army and about the presence of fighters allegedly aligned with Iran, Israel has sought to reinforce terrorists in the buffer zone protecting their occupation of the Golan by supplying weapons , ammunition and money to purchase weapons, in addition to providing aid in the form of medical care, cash, food and fuel, leading a Fursan al-Jolan spokesman to proclaim, “Israel stood by our side in a heroic way … We wouldn’t have survived without Israel’s assistance.”
Consequently, the Syrian army has discovered caches of Israeli weapons and ammunition in areas captured from terrorist groups, making them not just the air force, but an arms supplier to multiple terrorist groups fighting to overthrow the government and impose Sectarian hell.
Gantz said he was the last man to leave Lebanon in 2000 and set up a field hospital to treat terrorists, though he called them Syrians. Syria News has reported on the free, state of the art medical care treatment provided by Israel to terrorists since 2013.
H.E. Bashar al Ja’afari reminded his colleagues that “Israel facilitates crossing by Al-Nusra Front terrorists across the ceasefire line,” treats them at Israeli hospitals and returns them to Syrian territory to resume their terrorist acts;” this treatment alQaeda receives from Israel begins as state of art medical care on the Syrian Golan which has been occupied since 1967.
The leader of the extremist Palestine occupying regime, Netanyahu himself visited and shook the hands of ‘rebels’ fighting for ‘freedom and democracy.’
Gantz said Israel is not acting against Syria but against other dangerous elements, by which he means Iran and Hezbollah. He said Shevardnadze was being naïve when she said Hezbollah and Iran are defending Syria, saying they are receiving very powerful and long-range missile capabilities. The truth is these are important to protect against Israel aggression, any moves by Saudi Arabia and the historical threats from the US, bound to escalate under the increasingly hawkish Trump regime.
Israel copped a bloody nose in its disastrous foray into Lebanon in 2006 and is more than aware of the acquisition of increased and advanced weaponry since that time by Hezbollah and its experience and success in the battle against terrorists in both Syria and Lebanon. Iran too is a powerful foe in the axis of resistance and can hit anywhere in Israel with its missiles in acts of self-defense. According to the “international community” —the US/UK/France and a few hangers on, Iran is not allowed the means of self-defense, hence the obscene attempts to redraw the nuclear deal limiting ballistic missiles which are indispensable for the defense of Iran.
Gantz claimed that he believed Israel and Palestine have to accept that neither is going away, that they have to learn to live in peaceful co-existence. The gross violations of Palestinians rights and the brutal treatment they are subjected to by the Israeli occupation are too numerous to go into in depth here, but the contempt for Palestinians, the arrogance and hatred felt for the people they brutally occupy and the impotence of the United Nations could not be illustrated more clearly than the deliberate and targeted murder in recent weeks of over 45 Palestinians, along with thousands injured in the march of return, where Palestinians are demanding their rights, not least the right of return. In Gaza, where people have been killed by snipers perched hundreds of meters away and under absolutely no threat, the demand is to lift the crippling and illegal blockade imposed since 2006. If ever coordinated and widespread sanctions were justified it is against Israel for their brutal 21st century apartheid. Gantz lives an illusion if he believes this is a two-party conflict, not a relationship of occupier and occupied.
Real Security: The S300 in the Hands of Syria
Gantz said Israel is concerned that if the S300 anti-missile system is finally delivered to Syria it won’t be under the control of Russia, but rather in the hands of Syria, in other words in the “hands of the wrong people”
Syria taking delivery of the S300 system is vital for Syrian security against Israel and is long overdue. After the latest strikes in Hama and Aleppo, rumored to involve bunker-busting bombs in Hama the urgency can’t be overstated.
Shevardnadze said the S300 is a defensive system, however, as Gantz replied the system can cover the airspace of Israel, leaving the aggressor state vulnerable to losing its long-held air supremacy, not just over Syria but facing threats crossing into Israel itself.
Enjoying good relations with Russia, Israel has been secure in the knowledge it has been able to continue its regular bombing raids on Syria, without raising the ire of Moscow. That changed to a degree after Israel attacked a number of military positions, including the T4 airbase following Syrian air defenses downing an Israeli F16, which itself was mobilized after Israel shot down a drone it claimed was in its airspace. By this, it meant over the Golan, which we don’t need to remind remains a legal part of Syria. Moscow issued a stern warning to the Netanyahu regime, advising it that Russian forces were stationed at the airbase and endangering their lives was unacceptable.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at the time told Netanyahu to avoid steps that could lead to increased confrontation. Netanyahu should have gotten the message that while Russia tolerates far more than you would expect against its ally there is a line that he has been told not to cross. We wait with baited breath for that line to appear on the horizon. Absent any actions or outright condemnation following overnight strikes we are not at that point.
Netanyahu has tried more than once to convince Putin to limit the role of Iran in Syria, agreeing with Gantz on the spurious claim of Iran building a military presence in Syria which is a grave threat to Israel and is the public reason given why Israel has conducted its regular air strikes on Syria. During a visit to Sochi in January this year Netanyahu was again frustrated by Putin stating that Iran is a strategic ally in the Middle East and so could not agree to Israel’s requests.
Even though Russia did not launch any of its own air defenses against the missile strikes of the US/UK and France on 14 April, it surely by now realizes there are no “partners” among the western coalition, only adversaries intent on balkanizing Syria in what could be said to be Plan C, with increasing presence of French Special Forces and the Saudis attempting to revive the failed Arab NATO project by implanting it into Syria as an occupying force. Quite apart from the fact the prospective participants are so riven with conflict with each other, it is a move that will be fiercely resisted by Syria and those assisting it to defend its borders. While Donald Trump may be all in favor of regional forces joining in and paying for the criminal occupation of Syria, it is a recipe for disaster precisely because it would be an illegal occupation that would ignite conflict which could spread well beyond Syria.
Having regard for the brazen actions of the US-led airstrike and the increasing impunity of Israel airstrikes which despite Israel claims of targeting Hezbollah and Iranian equipment are actually designed to assist terrorist forces and keep Syria from making gains in the south, Sergey Lavrov said Russia no longer has a moral obligation not to supply Syria with the S300 system. Russia has maintained its mandate in Syria is to fight terrorism and ensure regional stability and that this doesn’t necessarily obligate it to provide unqualified support to Syria. But as the sponsors of terrorist forces have changed tactics and become more openly involved in the war, Russia too must adapt its approach or Syria faces the prospect of terrorist forces reversing what Syria has liberated because of the damage was done by US-led forces and the ongoing criminal acts of Israel.
Much of the sheer arrogance of Israel in its airstrikes with impunity could have been avoided had the contract signed in 2010 for Syria to purchase four battalions of the S300PMU-2 system been fulfilled. The contract was signed on the verge of the war on Syria breaking out, restricting the ability of its implementation.
Of even greater consequence was the fact that Russia canceled the contract at the request of Israel. Tel Aviv urged Russia not to supply a weapons system which may enable Syria to control its own airspace, a concept alien to the rogue regime which views the airspace as its own domain, demonstrated repeatedly in its attacks to assist terrorists and hinder Syria in operations to defeat them. Furthermore, Israel was concerned that the range of the missile system would allow Syria to strike Israeli targets from its own territory. As a defensive response, this is perfectly legitimate in the case of an attack emanating from Israeli territory (or Syrian if from the Golan, or Lebanon where many Israeli jets have approached from previously) and enables retaliation against military targets that launch attacks. The S300 system is a game changer and Israel knows it. The cancellation of the contract shows the influence Israel had on Russia and the pandering of Russia at the time to the interests of Washington. Too much water has flowed under the bridge since then, hence Lavrov and his statement that really said the powers waging war on Syria have lost their moral compass.
Shevardnadze asked if the Israeli air force will attack S300 system batteries if Russia supplies them. He gave a non-committed answer to this question. He said Israel’s interests are purely security in the northern region. He used the term the northern region several times, by which he refers to the Golan Heights, which is Syrian land seized by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981. Israel views the Golan as a buffer zone in the context of the war and just as with Palestine, has no plans to give the land back to displaced Syrians. The area is currently home to 20,000 settlers, with plans to settle more than 100,000 in the coming years to strengthen Israel’s grip on the area. As one of the states ravaging Syria through war, Israel hopes it will be too weakened and more concerned about its own preservation to mount any serious claims to reclaim land rightfully theirs. Israel will be delighted with moves to aggressively push for balkanization, having been one of the architects of the project. These are not the actions of a country acting in self- defense or seeking to protect its security.
The thug occupying the position of Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman said that Israel would attack S300 systems if Israel came under attack. “What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us,” Lieberman told news website Ynet. The ball is in Israel’s court as there will be no need for the missiles to be deployed if Israel respects the territory of not just Syria, but Lebanon too and ceases its illegal and aggressive strikes as the air force of ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Lieberman is an extremist who is sure to see the S300 as a red rag to a bull. This is a man who called for cutting the heads off Palestinians he said were disloyal to Israel and praised IDF snipers who have murdered more than 40 Palestinians during the march of return as heroes.
After the downing of the F16 jet, the Jerusalem Post quoted the IDF as saying “Iran and Syria are playing with fire,” that Iran is “using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel” and that it would exact a heavy price on Iran and Syria for any future “aggression.” All this bravado and aggression was a gross overreaction to a single drone which had not strayed into Israeli territory, it was operating near the Golan Heights and was engaged in anti-ISIS operations. So, in the final analysis, this was yet another act of aggression by Israel to defend savage takfirist and illustrates the lies of Gantz that Israel simple adopts a defensive posture in the region.
As a final word on the supply of S300 to Syria, it is not even the latest system the S400 which Russia seems to want to sell to everyone but Syria. OK then, that system is not on the table, but the S300 needs to be delivered, unpacked and ready for use pronto. Only then will the criminal invaders in Israel, the US, France, and its allies be forced to pay a price they may find too high to accept.
— Paul Mansfield