Feb 11, 2010

Syria Debating Attacks Against Israel

Aaron KleinBy Aaron Klein

Official: Iran wants low-grade warfare to escalate into larger conflict

TEL AVIV – Syria has been contemplating launching low-grade attacks against Jewish communities in the Golan Heights to pressure Israel into negotiations aimed at relinquishing the strategic territory, a senior Israeli security official told WND.

The official said the Syrian government was debating whether to launch guerrilla warfare and possibly sporadic mortar and rocket attacks targeting the Golan. The attacks would be blamed on an "independent" group operating out of Syria, the official said.

However, Syria apparently has backed down from the plan after Iran expressed interest in using the low-grade attacks to escalate into a larger conflict between Israel and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, the official said. Such a conflict would distract Israel.

The official said Syria is afraid of a large conflict or an outright war with Israel.

Just last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned Syria's president, Bashar Assad, that any war with his country would topple his regime.

"Assad should know that if he attacks, he will not only lose the war. Neither he nor his family will remain in power," Lieberman said last Thursday.

Lieberman was responding to a Syrian threat against Israeli cities one day earlier.

"Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said following a meeting last week with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos.

Syria has long demanded the Golan Heights as part of any deal with Israel. The Golan looks down on Israeli population centers and twice was used by Damascus to launch ground invasions into the Jewish state.

The Jewish Golan

News media accounts routinely billed the Golan as "undisputed Syrian territory" until Israel "captured the region" in 1967. The Golan, however, has been out of Damascus' control for far longer than the 19 years it was within its rule, from 1948 to 1967.

Even when Syria shortly held the Golan, some of it was stolen from Jews. Tens of thousands of acres of farmland on the Golan were purchased by Jews as far back as the late 19th century. The Turks of the Ottoman Empire kicked out some Jews around the turn of the century.

But some of the Golan was still farmed by Jews until 1947, when Syria first became an independent state. Just before that, the territory was transferred back and forth between France, Britain and even Turkey, before it became a part of the French Mandate of Syria.

When the French Mandate ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria, which quickly seized land that was being worked by the Palestine Colonization Association and the Jewish Colonization Association. A year later, in 1948, Syria, along with other Arab countries, used the Golan to attack Israel in a war to destroy the newly formed Jewish state.

The Golan, steeped in Jewish history, is connected to the Torah and to the periods of the First and Second Jewish Temples. The Golan Heights was referred to in the Torah as "Bashan." The word "Golan" apparently was derived from the biblical city of "Golan in Bashan."

The book of Joshua relates how the Golan was assigned to the tribe of Manasseh. Later, during the time of the First Temple, King Solomon appointed three ministers in the region, and the area became contested between the northern Jewish kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom based in Damascus.

The book of Kings relates how King Ahab of Israel defeated Ben-Hadad I of Damascus near the present-day site of Kibbutz Afik in the southern Golan, and the prophet Elisha foretold that King Jehoash of Israel would defeat Ben-Hadad III of Damascus, also near Kibbutz Afik.

The online Jewish Virtual Library has an account of how in the late 6th and 5th centuries B.C., the Golan was settled by Jewish exiles returning from Babylonia, or modern day Iraq. In the mid–2nd century B.C., Judah Maccabee's grandnephew, the Hasmonean King Alexander Jannai, added the Golan Heights to his kingdom.

The Golan hosted some of the most important houses of Torah study in the years following the Second Temple's destruction and subsequent Jewish exile; some of Judaism's most revered ancient rabbis are buried in the territory. The remains of some 25 synagogues from the period between the Jewish revolt and the Islamic conquest in 636 have been excavated. The Golan is also dotted with ancient Jewish villages.

Related Links

The Golan Heights - Jewish Virtual Library
The Late Great State of Israel: How Enemies Within and Without Threaten the Jewish Nation's Survival - Aaron Klein (Book)
Syrian official: Golan benefits proves Israel doesn't want peace - Ha'aretz
Ahmadinejad warns Israel against any military move - Reuters
War Coming with Lebanon and Syria? - Bible Prophecy Today (David Dolan)