Al-Qaeda operatives fighting the Syrian regime have been watching and studying IDF patrols along the border with Israel, from only meters away on the other side of the fence.
Members of the al-Furqan group — affiliated with the global al-Qaeda organization which has acted in Yemen and Iraq — were filmed close to Israel’s border, out in the open, in footage screened by Israel’s Channel 10 on Tuesday night.
In a number of videos uploaded to the internet, the fighters can also be seen holding various munitions, including old anti-tank rockets and heavy machine guns.
Sources in the IDF believe the gunmen affiliated with these and other terror groups are currently preoccupied with fighting President Bashar Assad’s regime, and that if they plan on turning their focus on Israel they won’t do so before they have more control in Syria, the TV report said. Plainly, though, it added, the decades of relative quiet for Israel on its border with Syria are coming to an end, and a year from now, Israel might have to brace itself to thwart cross-border attacks.
The latest reports confirm a Times of Israel story last week which said Assad’s forces have largely left the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. The footage screened on Tuesday included film taken in the Quneitra area of the Golan, the TV report said.
Though the ongoing fighting in Syria is not directed at Israel, the IDF and Israeli security officials are keeping a close watch on the situation in the neighboring country, preparing for any development, the report said, adding that some in the IDF are suggesting that Israel seek to reach out to some of the more moderate Syrian rebel groups with an eye on the post-Assad future.
In recent months, stray shots and mortar shells have fallen on the Israeli side of the border several times, including in two incidents last week, and the fence was rebuilt and drastically improved.