In recent weeks, forces led by al-Nusra have made major territorial advances. In late April, these forces captured eastern Tel al-Akhmar (the red hill). This hill is situated five kilometers from the Israeli border on the Golan Heights. Western Tel al-Akhmar, which is just 2km from the first Israeli positions, was captured earlier in the month.
Rebel forces hope to push on to Quneitra itself. Their intention is to establish a contiguous strip of rebel-controlled territory in across western Deraa and Quneitra provinces – just 100km southwest of Damascus.
For Israel, the possibility that al-Qaeda linked jihadis should establish themselves along one of its borderlines represents a nightmare scenario. In a video released after the capture of the hill, a Nusra spokesman was heard to praise Osama Bin-Laden as the ‘lion of Islam’, and to vow continued war on ‘Jews and crusaders.’
So the problem is clear. What is Israel doing to respond to it?