Monday, November 12, 2012

Israel-Syria Shooting Exposes Hidden War: IDF Fires at Syria For the First Time Since 1973  by ROY TOV 

GeographyThe Spaniards gave odd names to their conquests. They favored names meaning “Red River” and “Black River,” despite all of these rivers invariably containing just regular water. My actual location is called “Altiplano,” namely “High Plateau;” yet it is not quite flat, the highlands feature endless hills and mountains placed atop a baseline drawn well over two miles above the Pacific Ocean.In comparison, the Golan Heights are a rather flat plateau. Few features break its baseline; thus, these immediately acquire military importance. The cease-war border between Syria and Israel draws an arch. At its center is Quneitra, a former Syrian city that was divided during the 1973 war and is home now to the UN forces separating the two armies.Next to it are several of the most dramatic hills in the Golan Heights. The picture below shows the Avital-Bental extinct volcano on the Golan Heights as seen from Quneitra; even at this low resolution, one can appreciate the IDF Tel Avital intelligence base at its top.From there, Damascus can be seen.Just south of it along the border, are the Hazeka Hills, where the hit stronghold is located. This stronghold belongs to Israel Air Force; it serves as a weather station and a communications-rely base. In other words, after forty years of silence, the Syrians shot two mortars at the most strategic spot along their border with Israel. This was not random.
Tel Avital from Quneitra What’s going on there 
On December 15, 2010, the Lebanese Army announced that it had dismantled two Israeli espionage sites watching Beirut from Jabel Snin and Jabel Baruch. Two weeks before that, Lebanon filed a formal complaint at the UN Security Council against Israel after the existence of the devices was exposed by the Hezbollah.The devices included watching equipment and signals sending and receiving communications gear; it could be activated from afar. It was hidden under fake rocks in a mountainous area. Readers of The Cross of Bethlehem could finally find a collateral corroboration of my description there of “Kingfisher,” a spinoff from Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s best commando unit.This is a special unit specializing in the placement of electronic beamers, cameras and other espionage equipment beyond Israeli borders. “Beamer” is an electronic device used for guiding certain type of bombs to a target.Riding 500cc motorbikes, which can be attached to Cobra helicopters, the unit is active mainly in Lebanon and Syria, though not only there. It notoriously erred during Operation Defensive Shield, causing the Siege of the Nativity Basilica in Bethlehem.Syria has never released information on the beamers placed in its territory. Despite the danger in the placement of this equipment, Israel favors this method since it saves costly flights; the lives of the soldiers involved are of secondary concern. Kingfisher and Sayeret Matkal routinely cross the border near Quneitra in order to perform similar activities within Syria.That is one of the reasons for the extraordinary size of an IDF intelligence unit at Tel Avital (the antennas atop the extinct volcano in the picture) and for the location of the Tel Hazeka stronghold. The photograph map released by Yedioth Aharonot shows the most popular crossing point into Syria.It is so because several major military bases in the area allow them an innocent-looking stopover before the crossing. It is so also because of the nearness of Damascus to the spot. Syria bombed this crossing point and related installations.What the IDF spokesperson didn’t say in the abovementioned quotations, is that Israel tried to take advantage of the ongoing civil war in Syria and performed especially risky crossings. It got caught, and the Syrians retaliated. Despite all the soft-spoken declarations of the involved parties, this is unlikely to be an isolated event. Its repercussions will go on beyond the end of the Syrian civil war.

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