(JNS.org) Israel is secretly supporting Syrian rebel groups along its border in the Golan Heights, providing rebel groups with money, food, fuel and medical supplies, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
The operation, which has a code name of “The Good Neighbor,” was reportedly set up as early as 2013 by former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, with a special IDF unit dedicated to overseeing the relations. The operation’s goal, which has not been confirmed by the Israeli government, is to create a buffer zone along the Israeli Golan Heights border, free of the Islamic State and Iranian-allied forces such as Hezbollah.
A commander of one of the rebel groups supported by Israel, who goes by the nickname Abu Suhayb, told the Wall Street Journal the relationship began when the group’s wounded fighters began receiving treatment in Israel hospitals. Suhayb said his group receives around $5,000 per month from the Israeli government.
"Israel stood by our side in a heroic way," said Moatasem al-Golan, a spokesman for the rebel group Fursan al-Joulan, or Knights of the Golan, which operates near the city of Quneitra in the Syrian Golan Heights. "We wouldn't have survived without Israel's assistance.”
While Israel has largely refrained from getting involved in the costly civil war, it has periodically carried out airstrikes and other attacks in Syria when its interests are threatened. These strikes have mainly been against the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has been actively involved in supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.