Israel has used the war in Syria to solidify its claim to the Golan Heights
For the last five years, Israel has been providing money, weapons, logistical support and even direct military assistance to "moderate rebels" with the goal of creating an Israeli-controlled "buffer zone" to ensure that the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights stay forever-occupied.
In other words: Israel is occupying more Syrian land to protect the Syrian land that it's already occupying.
Israel’s “safe zone” now unofficially runs roughly 6 miles (10km) deep and 12 miles (20km) long beyond the demarcation line of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The effort is intended to prevent the Syrian government and its allies, specifically Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, from maintaining a foothold along the Israeli fence. Israel used a similar tactic to establish a zone of control in the south of Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war.
For Israel, establishing a buffer zone in southern Syria not only creates distance between its border and pro-government forces – particularly those backed by Iran – it also cements Tel Aviv’s control over the occupied Golan Heights, an area of Syrian land that the Israeli army captured in 1967.
Israel has never hidden what it hopes to gain from the chaos in Syria.
Israel's deputy minister for diplomacy Michael Oren said in April that "there is no Syria to negotiate with", meaning that Israel's illegal occupation of the Golan should be recognized by the international community.
Damascus has long accused Israel of aiding "rebels" in southern Syria. As Samaha reports:
A case in point was the Syrian army’s offensive on East Samdaniyeh in April. “When the militants could not advance, the Israeli army attacked Syrian army positions in the area using the pretext of a mortar landing in the occupied Golan,” said one Syrian government military source. “This has happened on several occasions in the past, such as during the clashes around Khan Arnabeh last year and the battle of Tel Shaar in 2015.
The war in Syria is far from over, but Israel has already received what it wanted.
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