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26 Jun, 2017 11:33

‘Israeli attacks on Syrian forces embolden terrorists to draw more fire’

‘Israeli attacks on Syrian forces embolden terrorists to draw more fire’

The decision by Israel to respond militarily every time there is spillover from fighting between Syria pro-government forces and the terrorists cannot lead to anything good, John Bosnitch, political commentator, told RT.

Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights once again came under fire from Israel, reportedly resulting in the deaths of two Syrian soldiers. 

It was the second time the Israel Defense Forces bombed Syrian government troops in the area in two days after munitions accidentally landed on the Israeli side of the border.

Jim Jatras, former US diplomat

RT:  Syria says it’s fighting against Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists in the Golan Heights, and errant missiles hit Israel. Is the Israeli response acceptable?

Jim Jatras: In my opinion, it is not. It is one thing for the Israelis to say that they will protect their border – that’s leaving aside the question of what the status of the Golan Heights is. The bigger question is this: is there something more behind this than just the Israelis responding to what they admit is an errant landing of Syrian missiles on their side of the border? There is a report today, for example, the Jerusalem Post saying in so many words that Israel has been cooperating with anti-government groups in Syria on the Syrian side of the border, including groups affiliated with al-Qaeda; that this is a strategic orientation that Israel has positioned itself in Syria, parallel to that of the US, unfortunately. There may be more to it than simply responding to a few missiles that had landed on the wrong side of the border. 

RT:  Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of Syria's civil war. Do these retaliatory strikes suggest that's about to change?

JJ: That is the real question mark here. Again, as the Jerusalem Post article pointed out, the anti-government forces in Syria are on the ropes; that the Damascus government is making great gains; that there is concern that these terrorist forces supported by, as we know, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and these other countries with the silent backing of Israel, and of course the participation of the US, are in big trouble. For the Israelis what that means is – and they are quite clear about this – they don’t want to see forces allied with Iran on their border, particularly Hezbollah. That is the real concern that they are expressing through this action. Whether it will grow into something major, I don’t know.       

RT:  The US has recently stepped up its fight against the Syrian Armed Forces. Is it possible Israel could be feeling emboldened by this?

JJ: I think so. I think Israeli and American policy are very close to this region and both of them are very opposed to Iran. Given the Iranian support for the Syrian government and the presence of Hezbollah, this is something that I am sure the Israelis are quite concerned about. Can they accept the defeat of the terrorist forces that are fighting against the Syrian government? I don’t know if they can do that, or if conversely some kind of assurances can be given from the Syrian side that Israel will not face a security threat from the Golan once the terrorists are defeated in Syria… We don’t need to add a Syria-Israel war to the mix of what’s been destroying Syria for the last six years. I hope in particular that the Russians are in a position to talk to both sides. As we know, President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu have a very good personal relationship, and of course Syria and Russia are very close. So I hope something can be worked out to deconflict these two sides.

John Bosnitch, political commentator

RT:  Syria says it’s fighting against Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists in the Golan Heights, and errant missiles hit Israel. Is the Israeli response acceptable?  

John Bosnitch: It’s never acceptable to violate the international law by firing across an international border. Neither the action of the Syrian military, if it crossed the Israeli border, nor the Israeli response – neither action would be considered a legal act under international law. But the point is that one act was apparently unintentional and the other was intentional. And an intentional violation of international law is always more serious than an unintentional one.

RT:  The Syrian missiles didn't kill or injure anyone, yet the Israeli response is claimed to have killed two Syrian soldiers. Is Israel being heavy-handed here?

JB: Obviously, first of all, the Israeli act is intentional. Second of all the human damage – the deaths and the material damage - is not proportional. We have a situation which Israel has violated the law once in terms of intent, and in a second sense, in a disproportionate manner, which is also considered an illegal violation. The terrorists here… locate their forces as close as humanly possible – even one centimeter from the Israeli border – to draw fire from the Syria forces. The Syrian forces, if they hit the terrorists, will certainly have some blow over into the Israeli side, thereby drawing Israel into the war. That is the ideal scenario for any terrorist group. If Israel fall for that, there are only two possible explanations: Israel is somehow connected to al-Nusrah, or al Nusrah is running a political policy which is much more intelligent that the Israeli one.

RT:  There are no diplomatic relations between the countries. Would that suggest only military might can settle any argument between them?

JB: There is always an opportunity to avoid military response. The question is: is there good will? There does not seem to be any good will on the part of Israel with respect to the government of Syria. And it is the legal government of Syria. There is no excuse for this kind of activity. There is no justification of it in the World Court or in international law. It cannot lead to anything good. It is a mistake, and it is a grievous mistake on the part of Israel. It will only embolden the terrorists to try to draw more fire near the Israeli border. This is the only certain result. All the rest is up in the air.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.