The Golan Heights are a territory in the south of Syria, which was annexed illegally by the state of #Israel in 1981. Since then, the occupation of the Golan has been condemned as a violation of international law. As an occupied territory, the United Nations have maintained a contingent of peacekeeping forces in the area since 1974, to ensure and monitor the demilitarisation of the region. 

Successive Israeli governments have not heeded to calls for the return of the territory to #Syria. Most recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cited the instability in the war-torn country as a valid reason to not even consider returning the Golan, and has urged the world to recognise Israel's (unilateral) claim of sovereignty over it. It now seems that Israel has been directly involved in the very same instability it has used as a pretext for the territorial claim. It has done so by directly fighting against the Syrian forces, as well as by aiding terrorist groups also engaged in hostilities against the Syrian people. 

The enemy of my enemy...

Reports of collusion between Israel and Syrian rebel fighters date back to 2014. Already then, the UN forces in the area reported that Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), law enforcement, and medical personnel were providing aid and support to armed Al-Qaeda-linked militias. The UN voiced concerns that this support was resulting in a de-facto militarisation of the buffer zone they were meant to enforce. 

The UN's concerns proved to be more than justified when, in August 2014, forty-five Fijian UN peacekeepers were kidnapped by the local rebel factions, which demanded and received a ransom of US$ 20 million for their safe release. Through its empowerment of such groups, Israel effectively contributed to their capabilities to kidnap the UN peacekeepers, and to their acquisition of additional funds to conduct their activities.

Druze concerns

In recent months the Druze minorities inhabiting the Golan Heights, a traditionally pro-government group, have attacked military convoys and ambulances after suspecting that their passengers were Al-Qaeda-linked fighters. They stopped the vehicles and proceeded to kill the patient, while leaving staff and drivers unharmed. The Druze's resentment stems from the government's apparent support of the very same forces which have sporadically attacked the minority members for months.

Black gold

In the past two years, US and Israeli energy firms have been acquiring and developing drilling concessions to access newfound oil reserves in the Golan. One of these companies, Genie Energy, boasts both extreme political clout and an all-star Board of Directors - figures of the likes of Dick Cheney, Rupert Murdoch, Jacob Lord Rothschild, and former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. It is thus not implausible to believe that Israel's machinations in the Golan are tied to US foreign policy in the region, and that both are tied to the economic interests at play.

With the UN observers gone, and the Israel-backed militias in the region, the state of Israel now has undisputed control of the Golan Heights. Whether this was an intentional plan, or simply Israel taking advantage of a favourable situation, is yet unknown. However, it cannot be denied that the Israeli government has supported and benefited from the actions of these terrorist groups, and is unlikely to return the Golan Heights to its legitimate owners. #Middle East