The Golan’s spillover from Syria

Guest post by DaveM

With over 100,000 people reportedly killed since the beginning of the Syrian uprising, the situation is getting uglier by the day, with Hezbollah among those intervening on the side of Assad’s ruthless campaign and Al Qaeda among those fighting to topple him.

As the conflict continues, the sectarianism is becoming more overt– its most recent manifestation being an Islamist attack on a monastery, destroying it and killing its priest. Syria’s Christians have tried to stay neutral but are feeling increasingly vulnerable with the rise of jihadists among the ranks of the rebels.

It’s not just Christians and Alawites who are anxious; now the Golan’s Druze have started to raise their voices in alarm. The Golan’s Druze, who identify themselves as Syrians and publicly regard their region to be part of Syria, have recently asked the Israeli prime minister to readmit those who left the heights and have settled in Syria.

In a further sign of the worsening humanitarian situation in Syria, leaders of the Druze community on the Golan Heights have asked Israel to take in their coreligionists living across the border in the war-torn country.

The request came in a letter handed to Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Harel Locker at a meeting with Druze leaders on the Golan Heights Thursday. The letter included an unprecedented request for Israel to take in Druze students who had left the Golan and settled in Syria, Maariv reported.

“We’re talking about permits for the families of students who come from the Golan and remained in Syria… married there and established families, and because of the difficult security situation are looking to return to Israel,” explained Nabih Hanjar, an attorney who handed Locker the letter.

“Israeli law does not allow for [the students’ automatic return], because after a few years [of residence in Syria] the Interior Ministry removes their names from the Population Registry. That’s why we’re asking for an exception to be made so that they can return to Israel with their families. We’re talking about no more than 20 families,” Hanjar said.

This development has been picked up by the Lebanese TV channel LBC. The report is strange and only makes sense (if that’s the correct word to use) when you remember that under Lebanese law “normalisation” with Israel is a crime. This also applies to the media; the 1994 broadcasting law prohibits anything which “is propagandistic and promotional,” or “promotes a relationship with the Zionist enemy”.

It’s intentionally vague, which means any reporting from inside the “Zionist entity” has to involve some bizarre work-arounds to make sure that it doesn’t contain even a whiff of normalisation, promotion or indeed anything positive.

Israel has imposed itself on the Syria File, having moved from the military and security aspect to the humanitarian one. And it has promoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s desire to help the Syrian families in the occupied Golan, families who are separated from their kin in the Syrian motherland.

In a request, the first of its kind since the occupation of the Golan, a number of Syrians who live on the heights have asked the government of Netanyahu to agree to reunite dozens of families [from Syria], claiming that the deterioration of the situation in Syria is putting their lives in danger.

Druze Sheikh: “This issue was put forth. The issue of the families and also the matter of the university students who studied in Syria. The families have brought up returning these families to their land, to the Golan heights, in order to return them to their relatives”.

There have been talks on the dozens of families whose youths are from the Golan but had traveled to Syria to study, then got married and settled there far from their homes. When they decided to return, the Israeli occupation refused to let them back in.

Some of the requests include bringing back families who, during the past 30 years, have refused to live in the occupied Golan and have returned to the Syrian motherland.

Analyst: “Since the existence of this Israeli entity, in my view, it has inhumane plans. Even with the four villages which have remained here (Majdal Shams, Mas’ade, Buq’ata and Ein Qiniyye) their [the Israelis’] plan has been to Druzify the area, to play the sectarian chord, and that of the Druze state which Zionism was dreaming of”.

In the request to reunite [the families] the Israeli government found a new gain in promoting what it called its humanitarianism towards the Syrians who are suffering from the civil war. And it has been re-publicising the mobile hospital which it set up at the border to move those injured in this war, declaring that there are over 20 Syrians being treated in its hospitals.

The rise of Al Qaeda and radical Islamists amongst the rebels is very alarming. However it’s absolutely vital not to lose sight of what the regime has been up to.

The district of al Qaboun and a number of other districts in Syria’s capital city are at the mercy of the regime forces missiles. Tanks are carrying out an onslaught in the district, pursing those whom the authorities have described as terrorists.

According to activists, cases of asphyxiation have been recorded by people inhaling poisonous gases.

In the outskirts of Damascus the fighting and shelling has intensified. In Khan Ash-Sheh in the Western outskirts of Damascus, the regime’s aeroplanes bombed a number of the capital’s quarters.

The features of the shrine of Sayeda Sakinah in Daraya, Damascus, were almost obliterated due to the continual shelling. [Iran blames this on the opposition.] Regime forces also shelled the southern neighbourhoods of Babbila inflicting large scale damage to the homes and buildings.

In Zamalka opposition fighters said that they blew up a building in which the Shabiha had been fortifying themselves, as they also destroyed a regime forces shelter by the southern ring road. They also said that they targeted a regime forces headquarters close to the air force intelligence building in Aleppo.

While the district of Al Rashideen was subject to bombardments from regime forces a child from the very same area was struck by a sniper’s bullets.

In the outskirts of Aleppo’s citadel the clashes continued, as the opposition fighters shelled Aleppo’s scientific research building. In Deir Al Jamal, Aleppo, shelling caused a building to collapse on top of its inhabitants. Residents then extracted the corpses of an infant girl and young girls from under the rubble.

All of this must be music to Assad’s ears. As he increases his brutality more and more radical jihadists join the fight against his regime, the moderates get frozen out, and the minorities flee. He gets it both ways. He can intensify the killing and then present himself as the only practical alternative to Al Qaeda by the Mediterranean.

Arsonist and fire-fighter– it’s a role he’s been playing for years.