Israel Manipulating Claim to Golan Heights with U.S. Corporate Backing

Back in early 2013 it was reported that Israel granted a license to a Dick Cheney, Murdoch, and Rothschild-linked energy corporation known as Genie Energy Corp to drill for oil in the disputed Golan Heights. Reports have resurfaced this month that the corporation has confirmed a major discovery of oil and natural gas in that area from the drill operation, and many are questioning both Israel, and Genie Energy Corp’s intentions.

In a 2013 statement from Israeli political analyst, Yaron Ezrahi:

This action is mostly political—it’s an attempt to deepen Israeli commitment to the occupied Golan Heights. The timing is directly related to the fact that the Syrian government is dealing with violence and chaos and is not free to deal with this problem.

Israel seized the Golan Heights during the Six-Day War in 1967, and later extended Israeli law and administration to the territory in 1981, though that move was considered “null and void” by the United Nations. Syria has since demanded its return.

Golan Heights Map

The Obama administration commented back in 2013 that they “intend to discuss this issue with the Israeli Government,” but considering Genie Energy Corp obviously continued with the plan to drill, we can only assume that discussion didn’t accomplish much. In a statement from Charles Ebinger, an energy and Middle East expert at the Brookings Institute:

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is part of Netanyahu’s plan to put additional pressure on the U.S., as he’s done with President Obama in the past. He keeps changing the facts on the ground through expansion of settlements and now this on the Golan.” He adds, “He keeps taking these actions, whether with the Palestinians or the Syrians. It makes it more and more difficult for the Arabs to come to the table. It’s definitely contrary to international law and goes against any number of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

While Ebinger believed it was a direct jab at the U.S., former top Middle East analyst for the CIA, Paul Pillar, believed the move wasn’t necessarily intended as a jab, but demonstrates that Netanyahu isn’t afraid to do just that:

The Israelis may be anticipating a replacement of the (President Bashar Al) Assad regime by new Syrian rulers who would push harder for return of the Golan Heights. The idea from Israel’s perspective would be to try to strengthen its claim to the territory by creating still more facts not only on the ground but underground.”

Israel has increasingly isolated itself from its neighbors for its settlement activity, constantly claiming and taking land as its own. And of course, the U.S. continues to coddle them as a 1993 foreign policy doctrine from Washington has linked U.S. national security interests in oil and gas to Israel’s security. The doctrine reads:

The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel’s security.

On to the recent reports:

On October 9th it was reported that Genie Energy had successfully confirmed the presence of oil and natural gas in the Golan Heights. Although the energy corporation “lacks evidence to determine if the reserves in the Golan Heights can be technically or economically produced,” Genie Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Howard Jones, states:

We remain optimistic given the results to date. We are now working diligently to determine the production costs and total quantity of the resource.”

Golan Heights Oil

A U.S. company with close ties to Israeli government confirms oil and gas discovery in the contested Golan Heights region. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI.

In other news: Syria’s Going to Get Even Worse If the US and Other Powers Don’t Start Negotiating

Time will tell how this situation plays out, however it’s safe to assume the U.S. government will most likely, once again, avert its gaze as Israel, backed by U.S. corporations, continues to lay claim to whatever territory it chooses.


Graeber, Daniel J. Oil Price. Feb 24, 2013. (

Graeber, Daniel J. Albawaba. Oct 11, 2015. (

Kelley, Michael B. Business Insider. Feb 22, 2013. (

Lobe, Jim. Inter Press Service. Feb 23, 2013. (


Original source:

Israel Manipulating Claim to Golan Heights with U.S. Corporate Backing





It’s worse than you think: the Rothschild clan wants to drag us into a war against Assad because they, or some of them, very probably the french ones, are in a business with the son of Erdogan, Bilal, for selling the ISIS oil. According to the website strategica 51, some of the tanks Putin destroyed belonged to the Erdogan’s family and this is really why Erdogan ordered to shoot the russian jet.


So, it’s even dirtier than we thought:

Erdogan’s son traffics ISIS oil and through Rothschild cleans it up in the “City” of Tel Aviv, while Erdogan “pious” daughter has set up a camp hospital at the border with Syria where she cures ISIS fighters.

France is going to war against Assad with that Scoundrel of Erdogan, who wants to eliminate the Kurds and is an islamist himself, probably because the Rothschild, Monsieur “Ouvrir les portes” , who’ s making business with Erdogan’s clan is the french one who in reality is an israeli citizen, Edouard. And Cameron? I’m afraid the english branch of the family doesn’t want to be out of the business and is using its influence to push the Britons to fight against Assad with Erdogan, and ISIS, too.

While in France Monsieur Valls, the fascinating french Prime Minister started opening his eyes and rebelling to Monsieur “Ouvrir les Portes” _ someone should tell him “de ta mere” – and saying we cannot take any more refugees, the socialists should also open the eyes about the impossibility of an alliance with Erdogan’s Turkey. In Britain the real Labour party is against the war because it would be an ambiguous mess in which Cameron cannot make clear who’s the enemy, Dennis Skinner stated :”You don’t even know who’s the enemy and who’s the ally stay out of there” and I’m afraid red Skinner is right.

Even Cameron realizes it, but the West cannot be allied with the Gulf States because they are not against ISIS, they are all against Assad and, if he interferes, against Putin, because Rothschild and the Erdogan’s clan have to use oil that does not belong to them, ISIS oil is probably syrian oil which means it belongs to Assad and the syrian people more than to Rothschild and Erdogan’s clan: they created ISIS to steal oil. ISIL is a sham. And Rothschild and Erdogan are thieves and terrorist’s oil smugglers. This is why the americans have been “bombing” ISIS since two years ago and ISIS was still around while Putin hit them really hard. And this is why in reality they want to stop Putin, eliminate Assad and take the oil, while we should let the refugees flood us. Stop this all. This is really why all the Rothschild owned press is against Assad: for money.

Original source:

27 NOVEMBER 2015

Istanbul Explosion

Wherever you stand,

Be the soul of that place


There is Hope. 

12 January 2016

The first weeks of the new year. Our heads are swinging to the blues beat of our heavy hearts as we say farewell to ten souls who passed away from this world. The mainstream media news and the governments pointed to ISIS terrorist attack again.

Ten souls were in the Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul, where all cultures combine and who you are, where you come from, what language you speak, what religion you believe or not believe would not matter. All it matter is you stand in awe in front of the monuments our ancestors built in the past. Our shared past. Our shared cultural heritage. Historical areas of Istanbul is in the list of World Heritages of UNESCO. The definition of monuments as world heritages by UNESCO’s words is that, they are architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings and combinations of features, which are of outstanding universal value from the point of view of history, art or science. 

Sultanahmet Mosque was ordered to be built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet I. between 1609 and 1616. The architect was Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa, the initial name meaning, a mother-of-pearl expert. It is also called Blue Mosque for its İznik style blue, green and white ceramic tiled dome. Sultanahmet is one of four mosques that has six minarets. The mosque was built across Hagia Sophia as an architectural skill competition to build a better monument. (picture source:

Ten souls were there to admire what our ancestors accomplished, what beauty they created with love for this world and people, and live through those periods in such an amazing combination of Christian, Muslim, and ancient Egyptian cultures. As they stood, they baceme the soul of that place. Timeless, filled with love, understanding, respect and appreciation. It did not matter who they were.

Hagia Sophia.

(photo source:

Dome of the Hagia Sophia. Virgin Mary receiving offerings from Emperor Constantine (Constantinople) and Justinian (St.Sophia basilica)

(photo source:

Hagia Sophia (from the Greek: “Holy Wisdom”, Turkish: Ayasofya), built between 532 – 537 AD by Byzantine Emperor Justinien I, is a former Orthodox cathedral , later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. Famous for its massive dome, it is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture, and it was the largest cathedral in the world for nearly a thousand years. (source: wikipedia)

The explosion was set off at approximately 10:20 a.m. local time, according to the Hurriyet newspaper. “It was difficult to say who was alive or dead,” the reporter said. “Buildings rattled from the force of the explosion.” The suicide bomber blew himself up killing at least 10 people – nine German, one Peruvian- and wounding at least 15 others who were Norwegian, Peruvian, Turkish, South Korean and German. All coming from different corners of the world to be amazed with our common past.


(Photo source:

Obelisks. The Serpent Column (Ancient Greek: Τρικάρηνος Ὄφις Τrikarenos Οphis “Three-headed Snake”; Turkish: Yılanlı Sütun“Serpentine Column”), also known as the Serpentine Column, Delphi Tripod, or Plataean Tripod, is an ancient bronze column at the Hippodrome of Constantinople (known as Atmeydanı “Horse Square” in the Ottoman period) in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. It is part of an ancient Greek sacrificial tripod, originally in Delphi and relocated to Constantinople by Constantine I the Great in 324. It was built to commemorate the Greeks who fought and defeated the Persian Empire at the Battle of Plataea (479 BC). The serpent heads of the 8-metre (26 ft) high column remained intact until the end of the 17th century (one is on display at the nearby Istanbul Archaeology Museums).

The Obelisk of Theodosius (Turkish: Dikilitaş) is the Ancient Egyptian obelisk of Pharaoh Thutmose III re-erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople (known today as At Meydanı or Sultanahmet Meydanı, in the modern city of Istanbul, Turkey) by the Roman emperor Theodosius I in the 4th century AD. The Obelisk of Theodosius is of red granite from Aswan (today’s Egypt) and was originally 30m tall, like the Lateran Obelisk. Each of its four faces has a single central column of inscription, celebrating Thutmose III’s victory over the Mitanni which took place on the banks of the Euphrates in about 1450 BC.

After Thutmose III had taken control of the Syrian cities, the obvious target for his eighth campaign was the state of Mitanni, a Hurrian country with an Indo-Aryan ruling class. However, to reach Mitanni, he had to cross the Euphrates river. Therefore, Thutmose III enacted the following strategy. He sailed directly to Byblos and then made boats which he took with him over land on what appeared to otherwise be just another tour of Syria, and he proceeded with the usual raiding and pillaging as he moved north through the lands he had already taken. However, here he continued north through the territory belonging to the still unconquered cities of Aleppo and Carchemish, and then quickly crossed the Euphrates in his boats, taking the Mitannian king entirely by surprise.

It appears that Mitanni was not expecting an invasion, so they had no army of any kind ready to defend against Thutmose, although their ships on the Euphrates did try to defend against the Egyptian crossing. Thutmose III then went freely from city to city and pillaged them while the nobles hid in caves (or at least this is the typically ignoble way Egyptian records chose to record it). During this period of no opposition, Thutmose put up a second stele commemorating his crossing of the Euphrates, next to the one his grandfather Thutmose I had put up several decades earlier. Eventually a militia was raised to fight the invaders, but it fared very poorly. Thutmose III then returned to Syria by way of Niy, where he records that he engaged in an elephant hunt. He then collected tribute from foreign powers and returned to Egypt in victory. (source: wikipedia)

Following the attack of the suicide bomber, the Turkish government imposed a broadcast ban on news about the bombing. Police officers blocked journalists from entering the square and asked them to refrain from taking photographs and video because of a nationwide broadcast ban.

Despite the fact that perpetrators of the attack are unknown yet, Turkish government announced the suicide bomber who also died was a 28-year-old Saudi Arabia born, Syrian national, Nabil Fadli, who was not on Turkey’s terror watch list. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said “Turkey won’t backtrack in its struggle against Daesh by even one step. This terror organization, the assailants and all of their connections will be found and they will receive the punishments they deserve.”

The US said, “We stand together with Turkey, a NATO ally, a strong partner and a valued member of the Counter-ISIL coalition, in the face of this attack and pledge our ongoing cooperation and support in the fight against terrorism.”

The last major attack on Sultanahmet Square occurred on 6 January 2015, when a suicide bomber detonated herself at a police station. The DHKP-C initially took responsibility for the attack but later retracted this claim. It was later revealed that the suicide bomber was Diana Ramazanova, a Russian national of Chechen origin with links to the Islamic State.

Photo source:

This attack happened following two combined sucide bomber attacks in Ankara in October and over 100 people (mostly left-wing Kurds) were dead. Despite the fact that Turkish government showed ISIS as the perpetrator back then also, ISIS never claimed the attack.

Veterans Today reminds a secret meeting that was taped between Erdogan’s Intelligence Chief Hakan Fidan and PM Davutoglu, who was Foreign Minister at the time, along with top Military personnel surfaced. Fidan speaks of “having his people send rockets” from Northern Syria to provide an opportunity for Turkey to move military force into Syria. Veterans Today asks; who would believe anything these people say anymore?

From Veterans Today:

ISIS has openly stated that all other Turkish cities except Istanbul is fair game for the full scope of its activities. “God has bestowed Islamic State with kilometres of land with war and guns, and we ask Him to open the gates of Constantinople (Istanbul) without war and blood-shed” states the foreword of a pro-ISIS magazine Konstantiniyye in its first issue focusing on the conquest of Istanbul.

The delusional idea is that the “believers” will simply take over Istanbul and make it the capital of the Islamic world. It is important to note that Rome and the Vatican, which is the prime target of ISIS in Europe, “will not be spared and women/children will be raped and made into slaves”.

Furthermore, this latest terrorist attack will undoubtedly be another blow for Turkish tourism after the debacle of downing the Russian SU-24, which resulted in Turkey facing huge cancellations from Russian travel agencies. Preliminary reports suggest that there are German nationals among the deceased and this will surely impact visitors from Germany, which is the top tourism provider for Turkey.

The chaos continues and however difficult it may be, we need to see beyond the carnage, get past the fear and find the real source of this evil. Rest assured that the people who are ultimately behind this attack and others like it do not give a moment of thought to the value of human life, it’s all part of their plan.

In Dan Brown’s book Inferno, referring to Heaven and Hell written by Dante, a terrorist biohazard attack was happening beneath the Hagia Sophia, also bringing out the old fears of draught. According to the tales, the people were meeting every day in front of Hagia Sophia and starting to pray when the draught started. Usually at the end of one week or ten days, God was showing mercy to the people and were sending them water from the underneath sources. So the cistern lids in Hagia Sophia were opened and the people could use the water. Inferno, which has a subject matter of water sources and their connections underneath Hagia Sophia that was used to refer to the last circle of hell in Dante’s book, says that this water will be used not to put out a fire but to light the fire.

We need peace more than ever. It is time to stay stronger than ever and stand by each other during these chaotic days. Condolences to the families who lost their beloved ones.










Israel stakes claim to Golan after oil find


NAZARETH, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took advantage of a private meeting this week with Barack Obama – their first in 13 months – to raise the possibility of dismembering Syria.

According to Israeli officials, Netanyahu indicated that Washington should give its belated blessing to Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan Heights, captured from Syria during the 1967 war.

Sources close to the talks told the Haaretz daily Netanyahu claimed that Syria was no longer a functioning state, allowing “for different thinking”. Since 2011 the government of Bashar al-Assad has faced off against rebel factions that include al-Qaeda-affiliated groups and the Islamic State (IS).

On Wednesday an unnamed White House official confirmed that Netanyahu had raised the matter. The official said: “I think the president didn’t think it warranted an answer. It wasn’t clear how serious he [Netanyahu] was about it.”

However, it appears Netanyahu’s comments to Obama are part of a coordinated effort by Israeli officials over several months to shift thinking in Washington.

The day before Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House, Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the US, published a commentary on CNN’s website urging Obama to consider Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

Had Israel handed back the area to Syria in earlier peace talks, he wrote, it “would today have placed [the Lebanese militia] Hezbollah directly above Israeli cities and villages in northern Galilee” and IS “would be dug in on the Sea of Galilee’s eastern shore”.

Neither Oren nor presumably Netanyahu highlighted another reason why Israel might be anxious to gain US approval of its annexation of the Golan, which it imposed in violation of international law in 1981.

‘Billions of barrels’

Last month Afek, an Israeli subsidiary of Genie Energy, a US oil company, announced that it had found considerable reserves of oil under the Golan. Genie’s chief geologist in Israel, Yuval Bartov, said the company believed the reservoir had the “potential of billions of barrels”.

International law experts say any proceeds from such a find in the Golan should revert to Syria, but Israel has so far indicated it will ignore its legal obligations.

The Israeli energy and water ministry has licensed Afek to drill 10 experimental wells over three years in a 400-square kilometre area, about a third of the Golan’s total territory.

Afek claims that the discoveries it has identified in its first year could make Israel energy independent, satisfying Israel’s consumption of 100 million barrels a year for the foreseeable future.

That would be on top of Israel’s recent finds of huge quantities of natural gas off its Mediterranean coast, offering it the chance to become a gas exporter.

Were the US to recognise Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan, it would likely clear the way for Israel to plunder any economically viable reserves located there.

Netanyahu appears to have long harboured an interest in tapping the Golan’s potential for oil.

In 1996, in his first term as prime minister, he granted approval for drilling in the Golan by the Israeli National Oil Company. International pressure meant the permit had to be withdrawn soon afterwards.

Resources plundered

Today, 22,000 Syrian Druze live in five villages, alongside a similar number of Jews in 30 illegal settlements.

A 2010 investigation by the Haaretz newspaper revealed that Israel had carried out systematic expulsions of some 130,000 Syrians in 1967 and destroyed 200 villages. The Druze alone were allowed to stay so as not to upset Israel’s own Druze citizens.

Nizar Ayoub, director of Marsad, a Druze human rights centre based in the Golan, said Israel had long taken resources from the Golan.

“Israel has always treated the Golan as a territory to be exploited and plundered, from its water to farming and tourism,” he told Middle East Eye. “Israel has simply ignored its obligations under international law.”…/Golan%20Heights%20A%…

Rainwater from the Golan feeds into the Jordan River, supplying a third of Israel’s needs. The fertile volcanic soil allows Israel to cultivate vineyards and orchards, and graze cattle. And the mountain terrain has also made it a magnet for holidaying, including skiing on Mount Hermon.

In recent years Israel has approved the construction of a series of large wind farms.

Ayoub said Israel had taken advantage of the conflict in Syria to advance oil exploration in the Golan, but such a move was rejected by the local Druze population.

“Even if Netanyahu could persuade the Americans to agree [about recognition], it is not their decision to make. The only people who can decide to change the sovereignty of the Golan are the Syrian people,” he said.

Quadrupling Jewish settlers

Officials close to Netanyahu have been promoting a change of status in the Golan’s since the early summer.…/israel-invests-millions-oc…

In June Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settler party Jewish Home and the education minster in Netanyahu’s current coalition, raised the question of the Golan’s future at the Herzliya conference, an annual meeting of Israel’s political, academic and security elites. The conference is also attended by senior US officials.…/

Bennett urged the international community “to demonstrate their ethics” by recognising Israeli sovereignty in the Golan.

He added: “To this day, no state in the world has recognised the Golan as part of Israel, including our friend, the United States of America. It is time the world stand by the right side – Israel’s side.”

Israel would try to quadruple the Golan’s settler population to 100,000 using financial incentives, he said.

A month later Zvi Hauser, Netanyahu’s former cabinet secretary, wrote a commentary in Haaretz arguing that Israel should seize its first chance since 1967 “to conduct a constructive dialogue with the international community over a change in Middle Eastern borders”.

Recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Heights could, he said, be presented as serving a “global interest in stabilising the region”.

Hauser added that Israel should demand the Golan as “compensation” for Obama’s recent nuclear agreement with Iran. Such a claim could be based, he said, on a 1975 “pledge” from US President Gerald Ford recognising Israel’s “need to remain on the Golan Heights, even in peacetime”.

In his CNN piece last Sunday, Oren, a widely respected figure in Washington, asserted that, without Israeli sovereignty over Golan, Iran and Hezbollah would become a base from which to launch armed attacks on Israel.

“For the first time in more than 40 years, the Golan could again become a catalyst for war,” he wrote.

He added that Israel had “transformed this once-barren war zone into a hub of high-tech agriculture, world-class wineries and pristine nature reserves”. He did not mention the recent oil find.

Israel’s ‘solidified grip’

Before fighting took hold in Syria, polls showed between 60 and 70 percent of Israelis rejected returning the Golan to Syria, even if doing so would secure peace with Damascus. The percentages are likely to be higher now.

The White House official told Haaretz that recognition of Israel’s annexation would disrupt US policy by suggesting that Syrian opposition forces supported by the US were “allies with people who want to give up the Golan”.

However, a recent commentary by Frederic Hof, a Syria expert in the State Department under Hillary Clinton, hinted that US officials might yet change their view.

He said US efforts before 2011 and the outbreak of fighting to pressure Israel to give up the Golan, as part of talks over a peace treaty with Assad, had been proven “so wrong”. Instead, the war in Syria had “solidified Israel’s grip” on the Golan.

On its website, Genie’s subsidiary Afek claims that its drilling in the occupied Golan Heights will extract “Israeli oil”.

The two companies include figures who have close personal ties to Netanyahu and high-level influence in Washington.

Genie’s founder, Howard Jonas, an American Jewish millionaire, made political contributions to Netanyahu’s recent campaign for the Likud party’s primaries.

Its “strategic advisory board” includes Dick Cheney, the US vice-president under George Bush and widely regarded as the architect of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is also an adviser. He controls large sections of the rightwing English-language media, including his most influential outlet, the US TV news station Fox News.

In September, Genie added Larry Summers, a senior official under Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Obama, and James Woolsey, a former CIA director who became a neo-conservative cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq.

The chairman of Afek, Genie’s Israeli subsidiary, is Effi Eitam, a far-right former general and cabinet minister who lives in an illegal settlement in the Golan.…/we-will-have-kill-the…/8555

His far-right views include demands to expel both Palestinians from the occupied territories and the large minority of Palestinian citizens from Israel.

After Eitam exited the Israeli parliament in 2009, Netanyahu sent him as a “special emissary” to US campuses as part of a “caravan for democracy”.

International law violated

Hala Khoury Bisharat, an international law professor at Carmel Academic College, near Haifa, said it would be hard to persuade the US to recognise Israel’s illegal annexation of the Golan.

“International law is clear that it is never admissable to acquire territory through war,” she told MEE. “It would be very problematic for the US to do this.”

She added that Israel, as an occupier, was obliged by the 1907 Hague regulations to “safeguard the capital” of the occupied party’s natural resources and was not entitled to exploit any oil in the Golan for its own benefit.

The prime minister’s office was unavailable to comment about Netanyahu’s discussions with Obama, or respond to accusations that the operations in the Golan were violating international law.

Since its establishment, Israel has drilled some 530 exploratory wells, but none has produced commercially viable quantities of oil.

Israel briefly had access to significant quantities of oil after the 1967 war, when fields it occupied in the Sinai supplied two-thirds of domestic needs. Israel was eventually forced to hand the wells back to Egypt.

Meanwhile, Israel has discovered large natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean, stoking tensions with neighbouring countries, especially Lebanon, which has claimed that Israel is drilling in areas where maritime borders are disputed.

The Israeli courts are unlikely to place any obstacles in the way of drilling operations in the Golan.

In a ruling in late 2011, Israel’s supreme court created a new principle of “prolonged occupation” to justify the theft of Palestinian resources, such as quarried stone, in the West Bank. The precedent could be extended to the Golan.

The only opposition so far has come from Israeli environmental groups. They have expressed concern that extraction of the oil, especially if fracking is used, could pollute aquifers or trigger earthquakes in a seismically unstable region.

Yuval Arbel, a ground water expert with Friends of the Earth Israel, said the Golan’s deposits were likely to be in the form of “tight oil,” making it difficult to extract. Israel would probably have to set up a grid of drills every half kilometre.

He told MEE that would increase the chances of oil spillages that could leak into the nearby Sea of Galilee, threatening Israel’s main source of drinking water.


original source:

Saving their sworn enemy

8 December 2015

Heartstopping footage shows Israeli commandos rescuing wounded men from Syrian warzone – but WHY are they risking their lives for Islamic militants? Elite Israeli troops rescue wounded Syrians from the world’s worst war almost every night They have saved more than 2,000 people since 2013, at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7million) Many are enemies of Israel and some may even be fighters for groups affiliated to Al Qaeda MailOnline embedded with Israeli commandos stationed on the border between Israel and Syria Dramatic video filmed by MailOnline and the Israeli army shows these operations taking place Israel says that the operation is purely humanitarian but analysts believe Israel also has strategic reasons

Under cover of darkness, an Israeli armoured car advances down the potholed road that leads to Syria. As it crests a small hill, the driver picks up the radio handset and tells his commanding officer that the border is in sight.

He kills the engine. Ten heavily-armed commandos jump out and take cover, watching for signs of ambush. Then five of them move up to the 12ft chainlink fence that marks the limit of Israeli-held territory.

On the other side, on the very edge of Syria, lies an unconscious man wrapped like a doll in a blood-drenched duvet. The commandos unlock the fence, open a section of it and drag him onto Israeli soil.

But this wounded man is not an Israeli soldier, or even an Israeli citizen. He is an Islamic militant. And his rescue forms part of an extraordinary humanitarian mission that is fraught with danger and has provoked deep controversy on all sides.

MailOnline has gained unprecedented access to this secretive and hazardous operation, embedding with the commandos to obtain exclusive footage, and interviewing the medics who are obliged to treat Syrian militants, some of whom openly admit that they intend to kill Israelis.

Danger: Israeli commandos are carrying out similar rescues every night - but their government's motive for authorising the extraordinary missions is unclearDanger: Israeli commandos are carrying out similar rescues every night – but their government’s motive for authorising the extraordinary missions is unclear

The casualty – who doesn’t look older than 20 – is losing blood fast. He has been shot in the intestines and the liver, and has a deep laceration in his left ankle.

After putting him on an emergency drip, the commandos stretcher him back to the armoured car and head back to Israel.

Almost every night, Israeli troops run secret missions to save the lives of Syrian fighters, all of whom are sworn enemies of the Jewish state.

Israel insists that these treacherous nightly rescues are purely humanitarian, and that it can only hope to ‘win hearts and minds’ in Syria. But analysts suggest the Jewish state has in fact struck a deadly ‘deal with the devil’ – offering support to the Sunni militants who fight the Syrian ruler Assad in the hope of containing its arch enemies Hezbollah and Iran.

‘My dream is that one day, the Red Cross will say, thanks guys, we’ll take it from here, you go back to your unit and take care of injured Israelis,’ said Lieutenant Colonel Itzik Malka, commander of the medical branch of the Golan Brigade.

‘I am proud of what we are doing here, but it is a great burden. For every Syrian in hospital, there is one less bed for an Israeli. One day we will have to make a choice between an Israeli life and a Syrian one. When that happens it will be hard, but I have to say my first duty will be to Israelis.’

Unconscious: A wounded Syrian Islamic militant receives urgent medical treatment from Israeli troops at the Syrian border. The commandos are seen administering 'tracheal intubation' by forcing a tube down the man's throat to prevent asphyxiation

Unconscious: A wounded Syrian Islamic militant receives urgent medical treatment from Israeli troops at the Syrian border. The commandos are seen administering ‘tracheal intubation’ by forcing a tube down the man’s throat to prevent asphyxiation

Emergency: The militant is very close to death and requires expert medical attention from the team, including a complex blood transfusion

Chaos: Alongside the border with Israel numerous groups battle in Syria, including Hezbollah, Government troops, rebels and ISIS

Chaos: Alongside the border with Israel numerous groups battle in Syria, including Hezbollah, Government troops, rebels and ISIS

There is no doubt about the danger involved. Many of the casualties rescued by Israel belong to Salafist groups who harbour a deep-seated hatred of the Jewish State. It has also been reported that some may be members of Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated to Al Qaeda that has kidnapped scores of UN peacekeeping troops in this area, and has massacred Christians deeper in Syria.

In giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil

Kamal Alam, research analyst, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

It is unclear how the two enemies arrange the rescue. All that has been disclosed is that word reaches Israeli forces that casualties have been dumped at the border, intelligence establishes that it is not a trap, and the commandos are sent in.

In the three years that Israel has been running these operations, it has saved the lives of more than 2,000 Syrians – at least 80 per cent of whom are male and of fighting age – at a cost of 50 million shekels (£8.7 million).

Almost nothing is known about the Syrian as he is wheeled into emergency surgery 40 minutes after the rescue. He may be a member of a relatively moderate Islamist group, or he may be a jihadi. For its part, Israel says it either does not gather, or does not disclose, this information.

Officially, Israel says that this operation is part of its programme of humanitarianism, which has provided aid to a long list of countries from Haiti to Nepal. Palestinian civilians are also regular patients at Israeli hospitals such as the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa.

A spokesman pointed out that about 20 per cent of the Syrians treated by Israel are civilians. MailOnline witnessed Israeli army medics treating a sick two-month-old baby and a middle-aged man who had suffered a heart attack, both of whom were evacuated across the Syrian border by the commandos.

Wounded: The commandos must stabilise the casualty as soon as possible and rush him to hospital so that his wounds can be treated

Safe: The stabilised casualty is stretchered out of the vehicle outside the hospital, where he will be handed over to the surgical team

The rescue of the baby girl was particularly poignant. Her older brother had died of a rare bone disease, and her mother feared that she was showing symptoms of the same disorder. Distraught, the woman decided to brave the dangers of the border and appeal to the enemy for help.

One day we will have to make a choice between an Israeli life and a Syrian one. When that happens, my first duty will be to Israelis
Lieutenant Colonel Itzik Malka, commander of the medical branch of the Golan Brigade

The baby was treated under cover of darkness in the back of an armoured car, by Israeli military medics with rifles slung over their shoulders. They were able to ascertain that she was suffering from a high fever and gave the mother some much-needed medication.

Then mother and infant were escorted by heavily-armed combat troops back to the Syrian warzone. Diagnosing the bone disorder would have to wait.

‘I wouldn’t say that Israel is doing this for nothing,’ said Chris Doyle, Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding. ‘If so, it wouldn’t be publicising it.

‘There is an element of wanting to improve the country’s brand and image abroad, when all the opinion polls show that Israel doesn’t have the greatest reputation. £8.7million is a large price to pay for PR, but Israel’s powers-that-be have realised that it has to invest in its image.’

An Israeli Government spokesman rejected these claims as ‘absurd’.

‘Israel is a world leader in providing humanitarian assistance, both in the Middle East and around the world,’ he said. He also pointed out that this is not the first time the Jewish State has given medical care to those bent on its destruction and their families.

In October, a Tel Aviv hospital treated Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ brother-in-law, and last year it treated the daughter of the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. But analysts maintain that in the ‘tough neighbourhood’ of the Middle East, it is rare to give something for nothing.

Humanitarian: A Syrian woman (centre) is brought into Israel by commandos so that her ill baby can be treated by military medics

Support: An Israeli Army medic gives the Syrian baby a medical examination. The child’s older brother died of the same condition

Desperate: After being treated in the back of a jeep, mother and infant are escorted back to the dangerous Syrian warzoneDesperate: After being treated in the back of a jeep, mother and infant are escorted back to the dangerous Syrian warzone

MailOnline was given access to interview Syrian militants at the Ziv Medical Centre in Safed, northern Israel, one of a number of hospitals at which they are treated, on condition that their identities are not revealed. If other Syrians discovered they had received medical care in the hated Israel, they would be in danger of execution.

The casualties lavished praise on Israel. ‘I will not fight against Israel in the future. Israel looks after wounded people better than the Arabs. The Arabs are dogs,’ said a wiry rebel fighter who gave his name as Ahmed, 23, who was recovering from a gunshot wound to the groin.

‘Before I came here, I wouldn’t have said this. But there are many people who got injured and came to Israel for treatment, and they told me about it. I feel safe here in Israel. But when I am well again, I will go back and fight.’

Another rebel, 20-year-old Mohammed, whose leg had been all but destroyed by fire from a Russian-made ‘Dushka’ heavy machine gun, agreed. ‘Thanks to Israel for letting me in,’ he said, eyeing the surgical frame supporting his shattered leg.

‘The butcher Assad is my enemy. Israel is not my enemy. The one who treats you is not your enemy.’ As soon as he was well enough, he added, he too intended to go back to Syria to take up arms again.

The Israeli doctor in charge of their treatment, Russian-born Professor Alexander Lerner – a leading expert in treating war injuries – did not disguise his delight at these responses.

‘We are trying to build peace with our neighbours and win their hearts and minds,’ he said. ‘There are now 2,000 Syrians who have had their lives saved by Israel. We hope that this will change their life position. In the future, they will be more friendly to Israel and they won’t want to fight us.’

Recovering: Mohammed, 20, a Syrian militant, receives medical care in Israel after his leg was almost destroyed by heavy machine gun fire

Recovering: Mohammed, 20, a Syrian militant, receives medical care in Israel after his leg was almost destroyed by heavy machine gun fire

Ahmed, 23, a Syrian militant

Ahmed, 23, a Syrian militant

Converted: Ahmed, 23, a Syrian militant, says Israel is no longer his enemy, but many suspect he is just saying what Israelis want to hear

Other medical staff, however, believe that the militants were lying. Issa Peres, 36, a Christian Israeli Arab social worker, said that many hospital staff resented having to treat them.

I don’t trust any one of them. You can’t change their minds by taking care of them for two weeks
Issa Peres, social worker, Ziv Medical Centre

‘I work with the Syrians all the time, I see and hear bad things,’ he said. ‘Many of them said bad words to me, that they are going to kill me, they are going to fight with the Christian community, when they are safe they will fight against Israel.

‘They have destroyed churches and Christian communities in Syria. I have to care for them, it is my job. But if I’m sitting with myself, I say no, it is not right for Israel to treat them.’

Asked about the fighters’ promises not to fight against Israel in the future, he said: ‘I don’t trust any one of them. They grew up believing Israel is their enemy, Israel is the devil. You can’t change their minds by taking care of them for two weeks.’

Other Israelis are more bitter. In June, two wounded Syrian jihadis were attacked by a lynch-mob while they were being transported to hospital by ambulance. One was beaten to death, while the other suffered serious injuries.

Six weeks later, two members of the Israeli Druze community – an Arabic-speaking people found in Israel and across the Levant – were charged with murder. It emerged that the militants were suspected members of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate who had attacked Druze villages in Syria.

Nervous: A treated Syrian militant is wheeled out of a civilian ambulance a mile from the Syrian border in order to be taken back to Syria

Returning: The militant is due to be returned back to war in an operation that is risky for the Israeli troops who will take him to the border

Farewell: The Syrian militant takes a final look at the medical team that saved his life before heading back to continue fighting in the war

According to one senior Israeli army officer, Israel’s humanitarian mission may also be part of a security strategy, aiming to ‘keep the northern border quiet and our soldiers safe’ by using medical treatment as an ‘insurance policy’.

It is humanitarian, but it’s also a case of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”
Kamal Alam, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

‘The Syrians will not strike us because they know we’d stop helping them,’ Lieutenant Colonel Malka told MailOnline.

‘They are desperate for our medical help. They have no doctors, not even a vet. Once we treated a man who had been stitched up by a friend with a needle and thread.

‘If they want our help to continue, they know they must stop anybody from attacking our soldiers and civilians.’

Some experts argue that the status quo makes sense for both sides. The militants are stretched almost to breaking-point in a bitter struggle against Assad, and Israel, which is coping with stabbings throughout the country and sporadic rocket fire from Gaza, wants to avoid a flare-up of terror in the north.

Others, however, believe that Israel is also pursuing more hard-headed geopolitical goals. ‘Above all, Israel wants to prevent Hezbollah from gaining control on the other side of the border,’ said Michael Stephens, Research Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

‘The Sunni militants are fighting Hezbollah, so for now they share the same objectives as Israel. That’s why we’re seeing this odd cooperation between people who would be enemies under any other circumstances.

‘It is also possible that Israel is looking at what capacity these Syrians can add to its intelligence gathering in Syria, which is already formidable.’

Leaving: The rebel fighter is wheeled out of an ambulance and transferred to a stretcher, which will be placed in an armoured vehicle

The final stage: These are the last moments that this Syrian militant is likely to spend in Israel before he goes back to fight in the war

Transfer: The militant is taken on a stretcher to the waiting armoured vehicle for the short journey back to Syria, where he will be collected

Analysts agree that the powerful Shia alliance of Iran, Hezbollah and Assad’s troops is an existential threat to Israel, far outweighing any danger from the Sunni Islamist rebels (who are backed by Saudi Arabia, understood to have a form of working relationship in some areas with Israel).

Significantly, an Israeli spokesman confirmed that no medical support has been provided to any militants from the Shia alliance.

‘From an Israeli viewpoint, it’s a case of my enemy’s enemy is my friend,’ said Kamal Alam, research analyst at RUSI and an expert in Syrian affairs.

‘There is no one they can trust in the Syrian quagmire, but if you get rid of Hezbollah, that’s the end of Iran in the region. Israel’s main aim has to be to eliminate Hezbollah – and whoever takes on Hezbollah is an uneasy but necessary ally.

‘In giving medical support to these fighters, Israel has done a deal with the devil.’

For Israel to actually arm and equip the Sunni militants, he pointed out, would be to risk a fierce backlash, both from the Arab world and in Israel. It would also run the risk that the weapons could one day be turned against the Jewish State.

Humanitarian medical assistance, on the other hand, which is also offered to civilians, raises fewer objections on both sides, while fulfilling mutual strategic objectives.

Mission accomplished: The armoured car, filled with heavily armed commandos and the patched-up militant, leaves for the Syrian border

Watching him go: A team of commandos look on as their comrades take the militant on the dangerous journey back to war in Syria

This is where the commandos come in. For these young soldiers, the night is yet young; taking Syrian casualties to hospital was just the first half of their duties. As the night wears on, an ambulance draws up carrying a patched-up militant ready to be taken back to war.

He has received treatment at the Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel’s leading medical facility for treating the most severely wounded patients. A civilian ambulance – with an armed guard – has taken him on the 90-minute journey to the border, to avoid attracting the attention of lynch-mobs along the way.

MailOnline is allowed to film on condition that the militant is not asked his allegiances. When he is wheeled out of the ambulance, it is clear that despite intensive medical treatment, he is still very unwell. One of his legs is in plaster and the other is scarred with shrapnel pockmarks, and his right eye is covered with a bandage. He looks disoriented and afraid as he is transferred into an armoured vehicle and driven off into the darkness.

From Israel’s point of view, this is the conclusion of another successful humanitarian mission, which now take place nightly as the conflict in Syria burns on. At the same time, however, many believe that this man’s treatment – and the care given to thousands of Syrians like him – is an important, if unlikely, investment in Israel’s security.


For four bitter years, the Syrian civil war has been raging less than a mile from Israeli-held territory (Jake Wallis Simons writes). But aside from the occasional exchange of fire, the Jewish State has so far avoided being dragged into the conflict.

Nonetheless, Israel has significant interests at stake in the hostilities. Most obviously, it does not want to see Iranian influence creeping close to its borders, as this could have serious security repercussions. 

A senior intelligence officer told MailOnline that Israel also concerned about Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict, as the Lebanese militia is gaining valuable combat experience that may strengthen its future operations against Israel.

Below is a summary of the main military actors in Syria, and what each one means for Israel.

Assad’s troops: The Syrian ruler’s forces are now only operational in his stronghold in western Syria, but they are now beginning to regain territory with the help of Russian air support. Israel has fought three bitter wars with Syria, and sees it as a longstanding enemy. 

Iran: Officially, the theocracy denies that it has combat personnel engaged in Syria. But analyses of military burials suggests that at least 100 members of the Revolutionary Guards and the elite Quds Force have been killed in action in the country since January 2013, and its financial and logistical support of Assad is significant. Iran is by far Israel’s most powerful foe, having repeatedly threatened to destroy the Jewish State. Given the large sums of money that will flow into Iran following the lifting of Western sanctions, its deep involvement in Syria is of grave concern to Israel.

Hezbollah: The Shia Lebanese guerrilla organisation has formidable capabilities, and works hand-in-glove with Iran in Syria. It is one of Israel’s most deadly enemies, having kidnapped a number of Israeli soldiers and fought several debilitating conflicts with the Jewish State.

Russia: Officially on friendly terms with Israel, Vladimir Putin nonetheless threw his hat into the ring on the side of Assad in September. The US says Russia has been mostly targeting the ‘moderate’ opposition, but this may have changed since ISIS downed the Russian Airbus A321 in Egypt on 31 October, killing all 224 people on board. Nonetheless, Russia’s main priority is to prop up Assad.

ISIS: The brutal jihadi group, which has become the number one enemy of the West since it mounted attacks in Paris in November, controls areas of Iraq and Syria which is home to five million people and is thought to earn more than $2billion a year. In October, the group released a video in Hebrew in which it promised that ‘not one Jew will be left in Jerusalem’. But it currently does not occupy territory in immediate reach of the Israeli border.

Saudi Arabia: The Gulf monarchy is the principal financial backer of the Sunni militia who are fighting Assad , including the Army of Conquest, a group of Islamist rebels linked to Al Qaeda. It is engaged in a long-term struggle for supremacy with Iran, and is also fighting Iranian-backed Shia forces in Yemen. It is understood that Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states have a working relationship with Israel, which is hated on the Arab street. Israel has recently opened its first ever diplomatic mission in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Shia militia: Iran has mobilised a multinational network of Shia militias in Syria, which analysts believe serves as Iran’s ‘Foreign Legion’, fighting the Sunni networks of ISIS and al-Qaeda. This includes Shia fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan. All of these militiamen are informed by Iran’s loathing of Israel, even if they do not necessarily share it to the same extent.

Al Qaeda: Various AQ affiliate groups are fighting Assad in Syria, including the feared al-Nusra Front, also known as the Syrian Al Qaeda. This group attacked Druze villages in southern Syria, angering Israeli Druze on the other side of the border. As a result, two alleged al-Nusra fighters who were being treated in Israel were lynched by Israeli Druze in June 2015.

The Kurds: This proud people has been fighting for an independent Kurdistan for decades, and is currently engaged in a bloody war with ISIS. Kurdish forces are comprised of a number of disparate militia such as the YPG (supported by Syrian Turkmen Brigades) and the PKK, which is locked in an armed struggle with Turkey. The Kurds have long been on friendly terms with Israel, which supports their desire for independence.

Turkey: The country is preoccupied with combating the Turkish Kurds in northern Syria, and has conducted airstrikes against them, as well as against ISIS. It has also provided arms and logistical support to the Free Syrian Army, and wishes to see Assad deposed. Relations between Turkey and Israel were derailed in 2010, when eight Turkish nationals and an American-Turkish activist were killed by Israeli commandos in international waters when they attempted to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The relationship has been repaired to a large extent since.

Moderate Syrian rebels: A range of militias opposed to Assad are referred to generally as the Free Syrian Army. David Cameron has placed their numbers at about 70,000, but doubts remain about how unified they are, given the fact that they do not share a central command structure and operate in different parts of the country. They have no immediate desire to fight Israel, but share the general hatred of the Jewish state that dominates in Syria.

United States: The Obama administration failed to attack Assad when he crossed the ‘red line’ of using chemical weapons in 2014. However, it has conducted significant air operations against ISIS, the al Nusra Front and other jihadi groups. The US is a staunch ally of Israel, though relations have been strained in recent years due to differences between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu over the settlement policy on the West Bank.

France: Following the Paris terror attacks, France has played a leading role in rallying support for Western strikes on ISIS, and has significantly stepped up its own air operations. Large numbers of French Jews have emigrated to Israel in the wake of terror attacks against Jewish targets in France. The French Government was one of the first to recognise the Jewish State in 1948, but also strongly supports the Palestinian right to self-determination.

United Kingdom: The RAF has been bombing ISIS in Iraq since September 2014. After Parliament rejected military strikes against Assad in 2013, British involvement in Syria was limited to logistical support. The vote to approve airstrikes in Syria in December changed that, and the UK is now carrying out fierce air assaults on ISIS in Syria as well as Iraq. Britain is a longstanding friend of Israel, though Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the opposition, has a reputation for hostility towards the Jewish State.

original link:

Monday, Jan 11th 2016

Israel buys most oil smuggled from ISIS territory

Islamic State

Israel has become the main buyer for oil from ISIS controlled territory, reports “al-Araby al-Jadeed.”

Kurdish and Turkish smugglers are transporting oil from ISIS controlled territory in Syria and Iraq and selling it to Israel, according to several reports in the Arab and Russian media. An estimated 20,000-40,000 barrels of oil are produced daily in ISIS controlled territory generating $1-1.5 million daily profit for the terrorist organization.

The oil is extracted from Dir A-Zur in Syria and two fields in Iraq and transported to the Kurdish city of Zakhu in a triangle of land near the borders of Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Israeli and Turkish mediators come to the city and when prices are agreed, the oil is smuggled to the Turkish city of Silop marked as originating from Kurdish regions of Iraq and sold for $15-18 per barrel (WTI and Brent Crude currently sell for $41 and $45 per barrel) to the Israeli mediator, a man in his 50s with dual Greek-Israeli citizenship known as Dr. Farid. He transports the oil via several Turkish ports and then onto other ports, with Israel among the main destinations.

In August, the “Financial Times” reported that Israel obtained 75% of its oil supplies from Iraqi Kurdistan. More than a third of such exports go through the port of Ceyhan, which the FT describe as a “potential gateway for ISIS-smuggled crude.”

“Israel has in one way or another become the main marketer of ISIS oil. Without them, most ISIS-produced oil would have remained going between Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Even the three companies would not receive the oil if they did not have a buyer in Israel,” an industry official told the newspaper “al-Araby al-Jadeed.”

“Israel has in one way or another become the main marketer of IS oil. Without them, most ISIS-produced oil would have remained going between Iraq, Syria and Turkey,” the industry official added.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – – on November 30, 2015

Tapping the Promised Land: Can Israel Be an Energy Giant? In 2009 an Israeli geologist discovered oil embedded in rock in the ground southwest of Jerusalem. There’s lots of it — and it could change the Middle East forever

April 30, 2013

A worker walks near an oil rig belonging to Zion Oil and Gas in Karkur, in northern Israel, on Oct. 17, 2010.


Nir Elias / REUTERS

A worker walks near an oil rig belonging to Zion Oil and Gas in Karkur, in northern Israel, on Oct. 17, 2010.

Bartov works with Harold Vinegar, an oil-industry legend who during a career as chief scientist for Shell helped pioneer methods to basically melt oil out of rock while it is still underground, then pump the liquid to the surface for collecting. Now, working for a company called Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI), both men are preparing to test the method in hopes of exploiting Israeli oil reserves that, in the form of rock, appear to be as large as the oil that sits below the surface of the Saudi Arabian desert in liquid form.

“We think that within a decade we can get 50,000 to 100,000 barrels a day,” says Relik Shafir,IEI chief executive officer.

The product is called oil shale, and unhelpfully so, because that’s far too easily confused with shale oil, which is something else altogether (shale oil exists in liquid form, but in tiny amounts that must be loosened before being harvested; it’s also known as tight oil). The better term for the form Israel’s oil takes may be kerogen, the name for the organic matter embedded in rock — any rock, not necessarily shale — that, were it buried a few hundred meters deeper in the earth, would have melted into petroleum. What IEI proposes to do is to warm it up right where it is, by drilling hundreds of holes into it, then slowly heating them up, through stainless steel cables unspooled to a depth of 300 m (990 ft.), where the oil-bearing rock stands. After about three years, the oil will be seeping out and can be pulled to the surface.

“Very light. Superhigh quality,” says Vinegar, holding a test tube of a sample produced by heating a slab of kerogen in a lab. “Surprisingly easy to refine, it turns out. Which makes it even more valuable.”

If this seems too good to be true, managers at IEI say Israeli officials are among those pinching themselves, even as they facilitate preparations for a test well. Not having oil has always been part of the Israeli identity. Between 1948 and ’86, when Israel’s state petroleum effort was finally abandoned, 440 wells were sunk in the Jewish state, every one a dry hole. Israelis joke that Moses led the Israelites into the only place in the Middle East with no petrochemical potential. Lack of oil was one more thing that separated Israel from its Arab enemies, who had lots of it. The apparent absence of oil below ground helped impel Israelis to develop alternatives — from miraculous desert agriculture to the armaments industry that spawned the “start-up nation,” including an electric-car enterprise, Better Place, marketed in part as a comeuppance to Arab oil.

All that began to change when natural gas was discovered 80 km (50 miles) off Haifa in 2009. The Tamar gas field came online in March, to great satisfaction across Israel. The gas will raise Israel’s GDP a full percentage point, the Bank of Israel says, and along with a second gas find another 50 km (30 miles) out, called Leviathan, could turn Israel into an energy exporter — without stealing any thunder from the kerogen find. Vinegar says the gas would provide the power to heat the subterranean kerogen fields, at least until gas released as a by-product of the kerogen harvest is repurposed for the job.

“From our viewpoint, it couldn’t be better to have discovered all this natural gas,” he says, noting a pipeline would run only 55 km (35 miles) from the coast to the work site.

Environmental concerns loom large. Israeli groups challenged IEI in court, but the high court was comforted by geological evidence that the Mountain Aquifer — which lies under the kerogen, and supplies most of Israel’s drinking water — is protected by some 200 m (660 ft.) or more of impermeable rock. A similar layer lies above the kerogen, ostensibly protecting the surface from noxious emissions, another concern.

But can it be done? And at a profit? “The challenge is, Is it technically recoverable?” says Simon Henderson, energy specialist at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. IEI is now awaiting a license from Israel’s Interior Ministry for a pilot project, which will occupy a few square meters, all the scientists say they need for a single well. That will take three years, and will be informed by Vinegar’s three decades of experience with Shell, which developed test sites on more complicated terrain in the American West, where a vast kerogen field lay in western Colorado’s Piceance Basin.

The economics are likewise provisional. IEI estimates melting the oil in Israel’s Shelfa Basin will cost about $40 a barrel — too much when oil was selling for about that, but attractive since the price has nested north of $100. Analysts expect it to stay in that vicinity. But as liquid oil grows harder to find and more expensive to extract, alternate approaches like tar sands (which contain extremely viscous oil that must be released at considerable expense) and tight oil (reached through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing) have become cost effective. Advances in technology may make them even more so, according to Fadel Gheit, senior oil-and-gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co.

“The people who were talking about peak oil 20 years ago are eating their words,” Gheit tells TIME, referring to dire predictions of decline as civilization passed the halfway point of earth’s total supply of liquid oil. Gheit notes that the percentage of liquid oil recovered per deposit went from the low 20s to the mid-70s in the past half century, and “unconventional” oil is delivering profits while recovering much lower levels per deposit. “So imagine the upside potential in recovery — and it’s not going to take 50 years,” Gheit goes on. “There are thousands of engineers and scientists working on this 24/7. One of them is going to reach the Promised Land sooner or later.”

Perhaps literally. IEI is mostly owned by Genie Energy, but investors include Jacob Rothschild, whose family built much of Israel, and the hedge-fund legend Michael Steinhardt, who chairs the IEI board. Vinegar, who is also Jewish, went to Israel after a career in an industry that, aligned as it was with the Arab world, was only too happy for an excuse to avoid working in the Jewish state. But the kerogen find in what the Bible calls Elah Valley — where David slew Goliath — not only allowed him to put his life’s work into practice, it also dovetailed with a political dream.

The kerogen formation that geologist Bartov first confirmed in 2009 extends beyond Israel. It runs across the few kilometers east to the Palestinian West Bank — Vinegar flourished a sample from there, darker than the chalky Israeli sample — and into Jordan, where the known kerogen formation is as large as all of Israel itself. Shell is working with King Abdullah II to develop it, in a country that has almost no mineral resources. Egypt has potential as well.

“The truth is, Israel is sitting on the best,” says Vinegar. Its oil could well lock in the energy independence that’s promised by natural gas — an independence that’s first of all economic: every dollar’s worth of oil or gas Israel produces is a dollar of hard currency available for other uses. But in Israel’s case, energy independence also involves military security. When the country fights wars, as it has every few years, insurance companies bar oil tankers from venturing into its ports. As a practical matter, that limits a war to the length of time it takes Israel to burn through petroleum it has stored.

But Vinegar sees a potential beyond hard currency, or even the brand of security provided by military assets. He envisions Israel, with its existing complex refineries, excellent infrastructure and seaports as a natural nexus for “an integrated energy zone” that spans borders and unites countries no longer quite at war, but not terribly close, either.

“Longer term, security will also come from Israel helping the countries around it,” Vinegar says. “That’s a world state I would love to see.”

original post: