Maj. Gen. Gershon Hacohen, a former Israeli military General Staff Corps commander, revealed that Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s former Defense Minister, had met with Syrian operatives as a part of Israel’s involvement in the war torn country.
“They came and Bogie wanted to understand who they were. He asked one of them, ‘Tell me, are you a Salafist?’ And he said, ‘I really don’t know what a Salafist is. If it means that I pray more, then yes. Once I would pray once a week, on Fridays, now I pray five times a day. On the other hand, a Salafist isn’t meant to cooperate with the Zionists. I’m sitting with the defense minister of the Zionists. So I don’t know.’ This means that identity components are very fluid. They don’t tell you where the person is going.” Maj. Gen. Hacohen said at an Israel Democracy Institute conference, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on November 23.
The meeting likely took place before Maj. Gen. Hacohen retirement from the Israeli military in September, 2014. Back then, most of southern Syria was held by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Maj. Gen. Hacohen claimed that the Syrians who met Ya’alon were “activists.” However, the fact that the Israeli defense minister met with them suggests that they were military commander of the FSA.
Israel’s cooperation with the FSA in southern Syria is well-documented. Last year, the Syrian opposition news agency SMART published a video of FSA fighters using 107mm rockets that was supplied by the Israeli military. Both sides even planed to establish a “safe zone” in southern Syria, according to a report of the Intercept.
Despite Israel’s support, the FSA failed to keep southern Syria under its control when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies launched a military operation in the region earlier this year.