Syrian rebels might target Israel next

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 |  Ryan Jones  

Israeli army chief Gen. Benny Gantz on Monday warned that the Syrian rebel groups that America and Europe are now helping to arm and train might turn their hostility toward Israel after ousting the regime of dictator Bashar Assad.

"The situation in Syria has become unstable and incredibly dangerous," Gantz said at the 2013 Herzliya Conference. "Although the likelihood of war with Syria is low, the terrorist organizations fighting against Assad may see us as their next challenge."

Since the start of the Syrian civil war, Israel has warned that most of the rebel groups are backed by or branches of radical Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, and their victory would only increase tensions along the Israel-Syria border.

Indeed, just last week Syrian rebels abducted 21 of the UN peacekeepers deployed to keep the Israel-Syria border quiet for the past 41 years. Those peacekeepers were subsequently released, but many more fled into Israel before they, too, could be taken.

On Saturday, Syrian rebels opened fire on UN troops, prompting a "very active review" into the safety of UN peacekeepers in the area. Israel's concern is that the UN will decide to pull the peacekeepers out just when they are needed most.

The entire situation is being viewed in Jerusalem as just another example of how Israel cannot trust international guarantees regarding its security, and therefore must not make major concessions that would compromise the safety of its citizens.

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