After Syrian rebels capture border town and government forces enter Golan buffer zone, Israel goes on heightened alert over fears Syria’s civil war may soon spill over the border
Monday, July 23, 2012 | Ryan Jones – israeltoday.co.il
Syria’s civil war is spiralling out of control, and is now threatening to drag Israel into open conflict with its northern neighbor after rebel forces captured a border town just a little too close to Israeli towns and military installations.
Over the weekend, Syrian rebels reportedly took control of the town of Rawyahina, situated just at the edge of the buffer zone the separates Syria from the Israeli Golan Heights.
Pursuing Syrian government forces actually entered the demilitarized buffer zone during the fighting, prompting Israel to file a stern complaint with the UN, which is responsible for maintaining the buffer with a force of 8,000 peacekeepers, who apparently did little to prevent the Syrian incursion.
Visiting the northern Golan Heights over the weekend, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the fighting was taking place within earshot, and that a number of mortar shells had landed just a few hundred yards from an Israeli army base.
The possibility of the conflict spilling over the border is growing by the day, especially as Syrian rebel forces receive increased political and even material support from the international community. That despite the rebels’ affiliation with radical Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and their persecution of Syrian Christians and other minorities.
There also remains concern that as Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is pushed out, he may lash out in one final attack against Israel, a move that would solidify his legacy with many Muslims.
In response to the situation, Israel has gone on heightened alert along its northern border.