Israeli Army Chief Admits to Arming Syrian Rebels in Golan Heights

Says arming rebellion was for 'self-defense'

While reports to that effect have been around for months, over the weekend, Israeli Army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot finally confirmed that the Israeli military indeed provided weapons to Syrian rebels operating in Golan during the Syrian War.

This was the first official confirmation from the army chief, but back in September Israeli media were reporting that Israel has armed as many as 12 rebel factions. Those reports were quickly censored by the Israeli military, however.

The rebel factions have been confirming such support for awhile as well, saying they were given large amounts of money and aid as well. Syria confirmed capturing arms and munitions with Hebrew writing on them held by the rebels.

By late 2018, however, Syria was making major gains in this part of the country, ultimately forcing the Israeli-backed rebels to surrender, with some negotiating relocation to Idlib.

Eisenkot insisted the arms were provided to the rebellion purely for “self-defense.” This is likely an attempt to justify the legality of this intervention in the Syrian War, in which Israel has long claimed neutrality.

In reality, Israel’s claims of neutrality were always only superficial, with officials having repeatedly expressed a preference that ISIS or other Islamist rebel groups impose regime change rather than the Assad government surviving.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.