While this is a good short-term development, notifying the end to what seemed to be an acute situation on the Syrian border, the message should be taken very superficially. The spillover into the Israeli side of the Golan was certainly nerve-wracking for the residents of Northern Israel, yet the fact that the IDF took great pains to focus their return fire on the Syrian regime should be a warning on just how close regime forces and their Iranian allies have come to once again claiming the Golan border.
The retaliation by the IDF against the Syrian regime in many ways goes far beyond the scope of Israel’s claimed focus of their relationship to the many sides in the Syrian civil war.
It is no accident that the IDF retaliated heavily on regime positions at the same moment the FSA was leading and offensive to cut through the road leading from Damascus to Daraa. The regime forces of Assad and his Iranian allies have yet to fully crush the resistance in Daraa and so the FSA was trying to break their supply lines.
For the first time Israel was willing to show Syria some of their hand in order to relay a message. “Quneitra is off-limits.” The Quneitra based division of the FSA is more and more becoming aligned with Israel. What started out as simple humanitarian gestures have morphed into an Israeli backed rebel militia.
With Hezbollah stationed oppositie Har Dov and routinely coming close to the base there, Israel can ill-afford to have the Syrian regime and Iran take up positions opposite the Eastern border of the Golan.
As the Trump administration weighs its next move against the Syrian regime, Israel is moving fast to push back againstAssad’s forces without fully entering the civil war.
Har Dov maybe the first target of an Iranian attack on Israel.
As the Iranian and Russian backed Syrian government continues to extend its offenses South into the Daraa province, effectively cutting off Israel backed militias in the Eastern Golan with their counterparts East of Jabal Al-Druze, the next stop for the campaign is to move West on the Golan border.
Israel has controlled the Golan since 1967 and annexed the mountainous area in 1981. Syria has never hidden its ambition in taking back the strategic territory, either through war or negotiations. Unlike the Southern Lebanese border area, the Golan has only recently been the subject and focus of Hezbollah.
With the advance of the Russian-Iranian axis the Har Dov area of the Golan takes an added statregic importance. Claimed by both Lebanon and Syria, Har Dov, also known as the Shebaa Farms has been the source of increased surveilance by Hezbollah.
Sources close to Israel Rising told us the official response to these surveliance actions has been to not shoot out of fear of starting a war with Hezbollah prematurely. Hezbollah agents are often seen close to the mountainous border fence aking pictures. Since they are not armed, soldiers refrain from shooting.
So why is Iran focused on Har Dov?
Although the international community has backed Israel’s claim that the area is in fact Syrian and included in the Golan Heights, the Lebanese government still claims the strategic region. More than that the border area is pourous as the IDF was forced to fence in the entire Arab town of Ghajar which is further South of Har Dov and lies on both sides of the Lebanese border.
As far as strategic importance, Har Dov leads to the Banias river which descends into the upper Galil opening up the entire Israeli North. With Iran/Syria/Russia building up on the Golan’s Eastern border, an attack and infiltration on Har Dov could effectively cut the Golan off from Northern Israel.
With the continued breakdown of the US backed coalition forces in Southern Syria, Har Dov becomes critical in defending against an Iranian backed attack on Iran. Northern Israel and the Golan Heights is fast becoming the next showdown in the Syrian conflict.