A suicide bomb car, which exploded Friday, Nov. 3, at the Druze village of Hader on the Syrian Golan, followed by shelling, killed 10 villagers and injured 30. It took place opposite an IDF position on Mt Hermon, presenting Israel with an unforeseen dilemma.
The attack was claimed by the Syrian rebel Tahrir al Sham (known formerly as Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front). Word of the massacre shot through the Druze villages on the Israeli side of the border, causing extreme distress in Majdel Shams, Massade and Buq’ata, where many people have close family in the Syrian Golan village. Druze Knesset Member Dr. Akram Hasson, of the Kulani party, said four of his relatives died in the attack. Hundreds of enraged Druzes surged across to the Syrian side of the Golan border Friday afternoon and were chased back by Israeli soldiers.
After that, Israeli army officers tried to restore calm with assurances that IDF would help them prevent Hader from falling into Syrian rebel hands. Hader is 4km from the Israeli border. The IDF could bombard rebel forces advancing on the village from the air and by heavy artillery.
An Israeli military buildup is meanwhile taking place on the Israeli-Syrian border. The IDF spokesman released the following statement: “Our policy is clear – we are not interfering in the fighting or supporting any one side. On the other hand, we are extending humanitarian and medical aid to local people who live on the Syrian Golan, to alleviate their suffering. Serious fighting took place in the last few hours. Contrary to the lies spread by interested parties, Israel is not assisting, and will not assist, terrorist groups. We will continue to stand by the Druzes of the Golan.”
The spokesman was countering an allegation. The Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who is respected by all the scattered Druze communities, urged the Golan Druzes not to trust Israel, because, he said, Israel would betray them.
DEBKAfile adds: If the rebel assault on Hader continues, the IDF may be forced to step in to save its inhabitants, in view of its pact with the Druze community of Israel. Israel would then lay itself open to being charged by Damascus of directly interfering in the Syrian conflict.
Another complication is that the Druzes of Hader are avowedly hostile to Israel. When some years ago, Syria, Iran and Hizballah pursued a plan to establish terrorist groups on the Golan for operations against Israel, some of them were willing to enlist.
Directly engaged in handling this inflammable situation are the IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott, OC Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, commander of the Bashan division Brig. Gen. Amit Fischer and the National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabat.
As night fell Friday, the fighting over Hader died down. Some of the rebel forces pulled back from its vicinity, but may return to the fray at first light Saturday. Israel’s Golan forces remain on a high state of readiness
Leaders of the Israel Druze community held an emergency meeting at Julis Friday and reported pledges received from the highest levels of the Israeli government and military that the IDF would not permit Hader to fall into Syrian rebel hands.