Former Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon has admitted that Israel has maintained contact with extremist organisations fighting in Syria, especially those near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
This is the first time that a senior Israeli official has owned up to such cooperation and comes after several media reports confirmed that Israel has provided military support and direct intelligence to such organisations. Those given assistance include Jabhat An-Nusra — designated internationally as a terrorist group — particularly in the provinces of Daraa and Quneitra. Israel is also reported to have treated wounded rebel fighters in its hospitals.
“We’ll take care of your needs,” Ya’alon is reported to have told the extremists, “and you will not allow anyone to approach the border fence.” He added that the organisation has been committed to this condition and no action was carried out against Israel from the areas controlled by the group.
According to the senior military affairs analyst at Channel 1 TV, Amir Bar Shalom, “If the media had not been consumed with the news about Elor Azaria [the soldier sentenced for killing a wounded Palestinian], there is no doubt that this statement would have been the top news item.” This, added Bar Shalom, is the first time that Israel is admitting its ongoing security coordination with the armed opposition groups in the Golan.