Golan Heights Are Heating Up

Israel, Russia, and America are working in tandem to stop Hezbollah aggression on the Golan Heights

Golan Heights: no longer called “occupied territory” by he US
Copyright: CIA [Public domain]

The volcanic plateau located on the border between Israel and Syria, the Golan Heights, are at the nexus of several developing stories that could have a major impact on the region and on the world in the coming days and weeks.

Earlier today, Israeli government did a major intelligence dump, disclosing information it had gathered as to the intentions of the Iranian-funded Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah to take advantage of the lack of Syrian government oversight on the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights in order to establish on it a ground-based military infrastructure form which to engage in terror acts against civilian and military installations on the Israeli side of the border. This activity is quite distinct from the ongoing Iranian and Hezbollah effort to use Syria as a launching ground for rocket attacks against Israel, an effort that Israel has been quite successfully thwarting via strategic airstrikes over many months. While the two efforts are distinct, the rationale is the same. Hezbollah believes that since the Lebanese border with Israel is internationally recognized, any attacks across it will draw a legitimate Israeli response against Lebanese, rather than exclusively Hezbollah infrastructure, making Hezbollah quite unpopular in its own home base.

In Syria, however, the situation is quite different in Hezbollah’s estimation. This stems from the fact that the international community, including the US, considers the Golan Heights to be an occupied territory and the border between Israel in Syria cannot be thus construed as a recognized international boundary. Hezbollah believes that this fact would make any massive strikes by Israel on Syrian territory in general and ground strikes in particular illegitimate and that Israel is thus enjoined from engaging in them. Additionally, the heavy Iranian and Russian presence in Syria are factors that in Hezbollah’s opinion will stop Israel from major retaliation against an escalating military pressure campaign across the Syrian border.

The disclosure of detailed Israeli intelligence of Hezbollah activities in the Eastern Golan Heights, intelligence that was undoubtedly presented to Russian president Putin by Israeli PM Netanyahu during his visit to Moscow last week, is a clear signal by Israel that not only does it have the intelligence needed to wage an effective ground campaign against Hezbollah on the Golan Heights, it has received the Russian go ahead to do so should Hezbollah decide to attack.

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But that is not all. Yesterday we heard from Clinton era Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, that the Golan Heights were “Syrian territory”. Indyk, though Jewish, is a known Israel hater, and has been nicknamed by the late Israeli government minister Rehav’am Ze’evi “yehudon”, meaning “little Jew”. While Indyk’s animus towards Israel is well-known, it was not clear why he chose this particular time to opine about the Golan Heights as a private citizen. Until today. Today, just now in fact, it was announced that the US would stop referring to the Golan Heights as “occupied territories”. While followed by a clarification that “there has been no change in US policy on the Golan Heights”, this move is a clear signal that the US is willing to move towards full recognition of the plateau as Israeli sovereign territory, perhaps as part of the proposed Middle East peace plan.

Such recognition would remove the protective blanket that Hezbollah fancied itself as having in Syria in general and on the Golan Heights in particular, a blanket that depends on the illegitimacy of the Israeli presence in the territory. The message that Hezbollah is getting from Israel, Russia, and the US is clear: any attempt to do the bidding of its Iranian masters and ignite the Golan Heights will be met by decisive Israeli force acting under a diplomatic umbrella provided by two permanent members of the UN Security Council.

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