For the first time in the Syrian civil war,  al Qaeda fighters are hunkered down on Israel’s doorstep, and Israelis in the lush, hilly Golan Heights who have long considered Syrian President Bashar Assad their bitter foe are now worried about something more ominous — that they could become the militants’ next target.

The push into the Golan by the Nusra Front, as al Qaeda’s branch in Syria is known, comes just two weeks after Israel ended a 50-day war against Hamas on its southern border with the Gaza Strip, giving the conflict-weary nation another cause for concern.

Israelis in the Golan have grown accustomed to hearing the sound of distant battles between rival forces in Syria’s civil war. […]