No, Israel Did Not Clear A Refugee Camp Inside Syria

Several days ago, Arab media and useful idiots reported that IDF bulldozers, accompanied by tanks, destroyed the al-Shekhar refugee camp in Syria.

Report: IDF clears refugee camp inside Syria

Accompanied by tanks and bulldozers, IDF task force crosses 500 yards into Syrian territory and dismantled a refugee camp in an area controlled by the Nusra Front, according to Arab media reports • IDF declines to comment.

An Israeli military task force, accompanied by tanks and bulldozers, crossed about 500 yards into Syrian territory near Quneitra recently and dismantled a refugee camp in the area, Arab news outlets reported Thursday.

According to the reports, the refugee camp, consisting of tin huts and tents, was built in an area controlled by the Nusra Front and was home to dozens of Syrian families that had fled the nearby fighting.

The reports said the camp was located on about 10 acres of land in a grove adjacent to the Israeli border.

Others claimed, rather disingenuously, that Israel raided a camp near Quneitra

So what’s the story here? UNSC-350, the 1974 cease fire agreement, defined the DMZ on the Golan. In layman’s term, anything west of Line Alpha is Israel. The general area of the story is here:

Sakhar 1

In this image, taken from Mt. Hermonit looking north, you can see a hill partly covered in trees. Most of it is Syria. The white building is an IDF position, and the brown lines are patrol roads and the border fence. Looking from above, it’s clear that Line Alpha crosses  some 100 meters east of the western edge of the forest.

Several videos and still images were posted on Wednesday, July 8th, depicting the supposed “destruction”.

Video 1: Turkey based Qasioun posted a video of the event as it happened.

Video 2: Syrian Orient News.

Video 3: Another Syrian account posted a video after the event happened.

What strikes me at first glance is that none of the locals seem threatened, have an urge to flee, or are running away, even though they are 20 meters away from IDF tanks. Furthermore, with at least 3 cameras and probably several more in any mobile device, there are no videos of IDF forces demolishing tents. Using the places shown in the videos, on can easily geo-locate all the elements in the video:

You can see in the videos that no clearing was done east of the north-south dirt track. What actually happened was that the IDF cleared a forest adjacent to the border as a preemptive measure against terrorism originating from Syria.

Several times before in the past 4 years, attacks on the IDF and Israeli civilians were perpetrated at or near the fence. Having a wooded area within 100 meters from the fence is dangerous at best, criminal negligence at worst. What happened on Wednesday July 8th was IDF clearing a wooded area to prevent possible terror attacks, nothing more, nothing less. The border fence in most cases is not the actual border, and usually stretches several tens or hundreds of meters inside Israel. The fact the military vehicles crossed the fence does not mean they crossed the border.

Below are two Landsat 8 images, the first from June 24, the second from July 10th. Move the slider to see how that area turns from green (pine trees) and yellow (dry vegetation) to brown (exposed soil).

Herein lies the crux: No matter how simple an explanation there is to Israeli actions, the same old “Israel bad” crowd jumps up vocally and lies, obfuscates truth, and delves into conspiracy theories to meet their preconceived notion that Israel can do no good, and any and all actions must be of a nefarious nature.

Like this IS fanboy:

This Israeli radical leftist: Tzurkov Or this general vile pro-Assadist:

The complex situation in Syria is something of which Israel is well aware. When many sides fight each other – and right on the border with Israel 4 factions are vying for grounds – it’s plausible that any military action by Israel could spark new hostilities. Clearing a refugee camp inhabited by people belonging to one camp, may trigger an unforeseen chain of events.

This, unlike certain cabals of the puppet kind, is not something Israel wants. Clearing 3 hectares of trees to decrease the chance of future hostilities is.

Update, July 29th

A new Landsat image was taken this weekend, and the clearing is even more define now.

This is a false colour image of the area, green is vegetation, purple is soil



Judge Dan

Dan Smith has been exposing anti-Israel fallacies since the first time he opened the world wide web on Netscape Navigator, sometime in the late 90's. His lack of formal journalistic, political and sociological education means he is still capable of objective, unbiased views and opinions. A judge of media, pundits and media pundits.