New soldiers of the Herev Battalion complete their beret march and are greeted by cheering friends and family. The Herev Battalion is composed exclusively of Druze soldiers. (Read)
Weapons for Everyone!
- Question of the day - Is there a country somewhere on earth that is NOT running arms into Syria?
- In addition to their own security, Israel may be acting acting to protect the Druze community next door in Syria. The Druze serve in the Israeli Army.
(The Guardian) - The top of Mount Hermon bristles with the golfball antennae, surveillance masts and bunkers that make up Israel’s northernmost intelligence base. Damascus is a blur in the distance, but the villages on the edge of the Golan Heights are easily visible below, deceptively peaceful in the afternoon sun.
Perched on the windswept 6,500 ft peak, the Israeli army has a bird’s eye view of what is happening as Syria disintegrates. Hadr, a pro-regime Druze village, fell to rebel fighters on Wednesday. Nearby Jubata al-Khashab is held by loyalist forces. Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, is advancing.
“Syria is dead,” Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, declared last week.“Assad is paid to be president but he only runs a quarter of the country. He can stay in his palace but he’s no longer relevant. He’s on the way out.”
The Druze faith is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion based on the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Akhenaten, Hamza, and Al Hakim.
Syria’s Druze community – around 5% of the population – has been split between supporters and opponents of Assad but has largely managed to stay out of the war. Now they have been targeted by Nusra and Islamic State (Isis). That has alarmed their co-religionists in Lebanon, on the Israeli-occupied Golan – and in Israel proper, where, unlike Arab citizens, the minority serve in the armed forces.
Israeli Druze have demonstrated outside the Knesset in Jerusalem, demanding action to save their brethren, but to no avail. “Many in southern Syria expect Israel to do something to keep the knives of Isis away from the throats of the Druze,” said a supporter, Mordechai Kedar, recalling the fate of the Yazidis in Iraq. Still, the army did send messages to Nusra, via the mainstream Free Syrian Army (FSA), warning the Islamist group not to harm Syria’s Druze.
Publicly, Israel insists it is sticking to its policy of staying out of the conflict next door. But that is not the whole story. Ehud Yaari, a well-connected Middle East analyst, wrote last October that some rebel groups were maintaining “constant contact with the IDF” (Israel Defence Forces) though they had only been given a modest amount of weapons. UN reports have described Israeli troops handing boxes to armed Syrians.
Evidence of links to anti-Assad groups – including Nusra – meets official silence. In one intriguing case, subject to censorship and a legal gag order, a Druze activist from the Golan and a serving IDF Druze soldier reportedly learned of and filmed a covert meeting between Israeli intelligence officers and Syrian rebels.
Exactly what Israel’s “eyes and ears” can glean about its neighbour from Mount Hermon is a closely guarded military secret. But the implosion of Syria has brought new challenges. “In terms of knowing the enemy we used to need to know the name of the Syrian president and chief of staff,” Yaalon observed. “Now we need to know the leaders of every single militia.”Read More . . . .