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The Cross of Bethlehem II

Casus Belli

IDF Assessinates Syrian Civilians on Syrian Land



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Tel Avital from Quneitra

Tel Avital from Quneitra | Israeli Violations


Imagine a world in which illogical statements would be automatically nullified and prosecuted. A government would legislate a law saying a organization – call it corporation, company or municipality – enjoys in the eye of the law the status of a person and … swishhhhh, the Logical Police would appear like Rambo in Vietnam and take the president to jail. What would happen to Israel in such a world? Would even one of its citizens be out of jail?

Naksa Day

This Sunday - June 5, 2011 - was commemorated the Naksa Day, on the 44th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War. This time the events included demonstrations on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, mainly near the destroyed city of Quneitra and near the Druze village of Majdal Sham. Syria said on Monday that 23 people were killed in the "Naksa Day" rally. Official Syrian news agency SANA quoted Health Minister Wael al-Halki as saying the death toll included a woman and a child, adding that another 350 people suffered gunshot wounds. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said live Israeli fire had caused casualties and UN monitors were seeking to confirm facts. The IDF said that since all the casualties were on the Syrian side of the border it was unable to provide an exact count.

The IDF doesn’t understand the count doesn’t matter. The IDF, Syria and the UN agree that Israeli soldiers shot Syrian citizens demonstrating on the Syrian side of the border. Period.

This is a Casus Belli event, i.e. a formal reason for the Syrians opening a legitimate war on Israel. The UN Charter prohibits signatory countries from engaging in war except as a means of defending themselves against aggression, or unless the UN as a body has given prior approval to the operation. In this case the first clause can be clearly activated.

Israeli soldiers taking aim

Israeli soldiers taking aim next to the Syrian-Israeli border fence near Majdal Shams, June 5, 2011 | Photo courtesy of Reuters

Quneitra and Kingfisher

In contrast to Nakba Day - when the IDF was caught unprepared, with only a handful of troops on the normally quiet border - two full battalions were stationed at Majdal Shams Sunday, and a third at Quneitra. They were backed by police officers as well as by dogs and dog handlers from the IDF's canine unit from Mitkan Adam. This is the full size of the forces keeping that border during regular times. Hysteria was on the air.

Quneitra is the largely destroyed and abandoned capital of the Quneitra Governorate in south-western Syria. Founded in the Ottoman era as a way station on the caravan route to Damascus, it became a garrison town strategically located near the ceasefire line with Israel. On 10 June 1967, the last day of the Six-Day War, Quneitra came under Israeli control, and then was briefly recaptured by Syria during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, but Israel regained control in its subsequent counter-offensive. The city was almost completely destroyed before the Israeli withdrawal in June 1974. It now lies in the demilitarized United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone between Syria and Israel. It features an official border crossing between the countries, which is administered by the UN. In The Cross of Bethlehem I describe how the IDF routinely violates the international area of Quneitra, with the silent cooperation of the UN. I was there.

Majdel Shams is a Druze village in the northern part of the Golan Heights. Near it is the infamous “Shouts Hill,” where Druze families separated by the war shout at each other from both sides of the electrified and mined fence. I’ve seen that. This is one of the Druze locations described in The Cross of Bethlehem. Thus, the IDF cannot claim surprise and unpreparedness as a reason for the unprecedented massacre this Sunday: people approach the fence routinely on both sides of the border.

Israel said on Monday that it will complain to the United Nations over Syria's use of demonstrators to challenge Israel's sovereignty. The complaint would focus on Syria's "manipulation of its own citizens to generate violent incidents at the border," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor. What Israel cannot deny, is that regardless the reason the citizens where there, they had the right to be there and demonstrate. Even if it spoiled Netanyahu’s high tea.

The hysteric Israeli reaction seems as an attempt to hide an ugly truth. In Hezbollah Beats Kingfisher I reported how on December 15, 2010, the Lebanese Army announced it dismantled two Israeli espionage sites watching on Beirut from Jabel Snin and Jabel Baruch. Two weeks before that, Lebanon placed a formal denounce 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. This is a special commando unit specializing in the placement of electronic beamers, cameras and other espionage equipment beyond the Israeli borders. “Beamer” is an electronic devices used for guiding certain type of bombs to a target. Working with the special means described in my book, it is active in Lebanon and Syria. The last has never released information on the beamers 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 (with no special reason, I recommend Syria to pay more attention to the Tel Hezeka area) in order to perform similar activities within Syria. That’s one of the reasons for the extraordinary size of the Tel Avital outpost of an IDF intelligence unit at Tel Avital (the antennas atop the extinct volcano in the top picture); that’s also the reason for other similar bases in the area, which can be clearly seen from the ground (I’ve visited all of them). Israel doesn’t want citizens in the area, these can become witnesses to the routinely violations of the Syrian territory by Israel. “Kill a few and frighten the others so that they won’t bother us,” seems to have been the IDF commanders’ order to the firing soldiers this Sunday. Again, also this one is a Casus Belli event, a formal reason for the Syrians opening a legitimate war on Israel.

Israel, drop your deception games, drop your weapons. Face humanity, apologize for your crimes, and indemnify the victims. Nothing else will let you sip your high tea in peace.

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