Behind the failed bombing attack on an Israeli military post in the northern Golan Sunday, April 26, hangs a much bigger story: The four-man bomb squad, which the Israeli Air Force liquidated, belonged to a new Druze militia, recruited by Hizballah in March, armed by the Iranian Al Qods Brigades and assigned its mission by a Syrian intelligence master.
Although the attack failed, the incident is being treated by Syrian and Lebanon media as a success story.
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That is because it was the first Druze terrorist operation ever mounted against Israel, and marked the fall of the hitherto free-standing million-strong Syrian Druze minority under the sway of Iran and its Syrian and Hizballah minions.
First dubbed by Hizballah the “Martyrs of Quneitra,” DEBKA Weekly’s counter-terror and intelligence sources reveal that the Druze militia’s group's other title betrays its subservient status: Lebayk Ya Salman (Oh Salman, we are at your service).
Some of the recruits were pressed into service with the Hizballah units fighting in South Lebanon under the command of Wafeeq Naser, head of Syrian regional intelligence. It was Naser who assigned the four-man bomb squad its abortive Golan mission.
A heavily armed strip fringing Israeli, Jordanian borders
The subjugation of the Syrian Druzes, an independent and ancient religious minority, is an example of how Revolutionary Iran brings one non-Sunni community and minority after another under its jackboot, and manipulates them as instruments of subversion and instability.
Dominating Jabal Druze was a critical component of a master plan devised by Tehran for its partners, Syria and Hizballah, to bring military heat to bear directly on Israel and Jordan by girding them with a contiguous military strip of land, running from the Druze capital of Suwayda in southern Syria, up to the Chebaa Farms of South Lebanon in the northwest.
The plan provides for this heavily armed strip of land to encompass the southern Syrian towns of Daraa and Quneitra and the dozens of Syrian Druze villages north of the Golan, to climb up the Syrian slopes of Mt. Hermon into South Lebanon.
(See attached map.)
This iron band was assigned a dual function: the second, to form a barrier against the Islamic State’s advance from eastern Syria to the south for the same object – direct access to the Jordanian and Israeli borders.
Scared of ISIS, Syria’s Druzes are snared by Iran
The Druzes managed to preserve their neutrality throughout the nearly five years of the Syrian civil war. In February, their elders, fearing ISIS forces would encroach on their mountain villages, turned to Syrian President Bashar Assad and asked for suitable arms for defending themselves against the Islamists.
Assad assented to their appeal. He turned it over to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers posted at Syrian military headquarters because that’s the way military business is conducted in Syria these days.
The weapons were delivered to the Druze forces. But in no time, the bill for the merchandise was slapped down. They were required to come down off the fence in the Syrian conflict and send fighters to join Assad’s and his allies’ armies. The Druzes of Syria found themselves stuck overnight between two equally perilous options.
This anxiety was expressed in a scarcely noticed comment by the ancestral leader of the Lebanese Druzes, Walid Jumblatt, in a social media post on April 7: “Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard are closing in on Druze areas in Syria,” he wrote. “Information shows that thousands of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards reached the Suwayda area of Jabal al-Druze (or Jabal al-Arab) in Syria. This might have drastic repercussions for the minority community in Syria,”
Striking at Israel’s security by dishonoring Druze military service
Jumblatt was voicing the apprehensions of all the region’s Druze minorities – 300,000 in Lebanon, 140,000 in Israel and the largest group of approximately a million, in Syria.
Whereas the Druze communities of Syria and Lebanon, both of which are at war with Israel, are closely related, the minority living in Israel is a case apart due to its special status
The new Druze militia is being sharpened and programmed to stab at the historic partnership between this community and the state of Israel, and thereby at the heart of Israel’s security.
DEBKA Weekly’s Middle East sources explain how this works:
1. Hizballah pushed the new Druze militia into perpetrating its first act of terrorism against Israel.
2. Its example will be held up by Iran, Hizballah and Syria to radicalize young Druzes and deter them from their highly valued service in the Israeli army and border police for fear of alienation from their brethren across the border.
Targeting a shared destiny
Decades ago, the Druze community solemnized a historic pact with the Jewish state, under which they serve in Israel’s national compulsory military service as equals. Many are commissioned officers and some have attained high ranks of command.
As a further humiliation, the Druze bomb squad’s first bombing commission was scheduled for the annual Nebi Shuweib festival, a four-day event celebrated by Israeli Druzes to honor their prophet Shuweib – none other than Jethro, the Midianite priest, who gave his daughter in marriage to Moses.
By dishonoring this festival, Iran and its cohorts sought to strike at the great symbol of the shared ancestral destiny of Israel and its Druze minority.