18 November 2012, 05:36

Syria and Israel exchange fire in Golan Heights

Syria and Israel exchange fire in Golan Heights

Israel artillery has fired back at Syria after gunfire hit an Israeli military vehicle in the Golan Heights. The incident comes amid high tensions in the region as Israel is waging an offensive against Gaza while civil war continues in Syria.

No one was injured in the exchange of fire on Sunday, the Israeli military said.

This has been the latest spillover of violence from Syria, where rebel fighters are trying to topple the regime of Bashar Assad.

"Shots were fired at Israeli army soldiers…in the central Golan Heights," an army spokeswoman told AFP. "Soldiers responded with artillery fire towards the source of the shooting."

The Israeli military however did not know if they were attacked by Syrian rebels or forces of the Syrian government.

Voice of Russia, RT

Will the border between Israel and Syria remain tranquil?

Avigdor Eskin

For the first time in 40 years on the Israel-Syria border, Israeli artillery launched a "Tammuz" missile as a warning, according to official sources in Israel. This was after a few mortar shells from the Syrian side hit Israel’s Golan Heights. Nobody was hurt in the incidents. This has been the most peaceful Israeli border for over 40 years.

Anti-government rebels from the so-called Syrian Liberation Front were quick to accuse Israel of using the tense border situation to support the Assad regime. According to the Turkish news agency "Anadolu", the Islamists have accused Israel of deliberately aiding Syrian government forces. According to the militants, Israel used the artillery fire to help save a group of surrounded Syrian soldiers. It turned out that a single rocket was enough to dissipate insurgents on the Israeli border.

Eighteen months ago, the Saudi TV channel Al-Arabiya, released documents revealing cooperation between Israel and Syria to preserve peace on the border. A leading figure in the terrorist group "Al-Qaeda", Ayman al-Zawahiri, said at the time that the Assad regime defends the borders of Israel. It is clear that the Israeli-Syrian cooperation was mutually beneficial.

The fact of relative serenity on the Israeli-Syrian border, speaks for itself. Despite the rejection by Syria of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the two sides found a means of tacit cooperation and collaboration.

During the Syrian civil war, the alliance between Syria and "Hamas” has broken down; the Palestinian militants openly sided with the opposition and were ousted out by the Syrian government. This could only have a positive affect on relations between Assad and the Israelis. Add to this the active support for Islamist insurgents by the current Turkish regime, which is itself in a state of tough confrontation with Israel.

With the current level of tension and bloodshed in Syria, reconciliation between Damascus and Israel could be a natural development. President Assad would have made many concessions to the southern neighbor today, if this would guarantee him a different fate from that of Colonel Gaddafi. But this development would contradict Iranian interests and would not be encouraged by Washington. The Iranians in this case are driven by irrational emotions and trust in their bankrupt doctrine that they will achieve a leading role in the Muslim world with anti-Israeli rhetoric. The American position against a separate peace between Israel and Syria seems to be rational but suffers from a typically American shortsighted approach, which misses regional nuances and any sense of new developments.

Meanwhile, anti-Israeli cockiness amongst Iranian leaders, coupled with a failed nuclear program, triggered severe economic sanctions and crisis. President Assad of Syria is not eager to follow suit, but the extent of his dependence on Iran today is such that any move towards Israel could cause him a headache with regard to relations with Iran.

Washington’s zealous support for the Islamist opposition in Syria has been tempered somewhat since the brutal murder of the U.S. ambassador to Libya. However, the State Department will not tolerate an unsanctioned peace agreement between Syria and Israel.

In this situation, Russia could play an important role, especially as the West has yet to make clear how it plans to interact with the newly formed opposition bloc, while Russia insists that the NCSORF (National Coalition for Syrian Oppositional and Revolutionary forces)alliance can only serve a useful purpose if its members start talks with Damascus.

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