“For thus saith the LORD: For three transgressions of Damascus, yea, for four, I will not reverse it: because they have threshed Gilead with sledges of iron.” (Amos 1:3)
The Israeli military has begun preparations for a possible ground operation in the Syrian Golan Heights to deal with mounting threats from the north, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. The move would be made in the event of sustained rocket fire or coordinated terror attacks against Israel from the war-torn Arab state.
According to the report, Islamists have been flooding the border region near Israel, putting the Israel Defense Force (IDF) on high alert. Last week, the army held a large-scale drill simulating a possible advance into Syria and the evacuation of Israeli civilians from border communities.
An additional report by Channel 10 added that the drill included preparation for a sophisticated, multi-pronged attack by Islamists, similar to those carried out recently against Egyptian forces in Sinai.
The IDF is also preparing for the possibility of an attack by Hezbollah, guided by Iran. According to an IDF source, hundreds of Hezbollah members are present in the Golan, and Tehran has been behind several recent attacks against Israel. The presence of Iranian and Hezbollah fighters in Syria, especially in positions near Israel, has long been a source of concern for the Jewish State.
“It’s clear that Iran is behind all of the terror attacks here [in the Golan] in the past two years,” the IDF officer said Sunday during a briefing with reporters. “The Iranians are using the border – they establish units – whether it’s [Jihad] Mughniyeh, [Samir] Kuntar, and more – to carry out [the attacks].”
According to the officer, Iran’s involvement in several attacks has been obvious, including April’s attempt to plant explosives along the border. An IAF aircraft fired on the four men involved, killing at least three. A video of the operation was released Sunday.
The IDF believes Samir Kuntar, released in a 2008 prisoner exchange with Hezbollah after serving 29 years for the brutal killings of four Israelis during a 1979 terror raid in Nahariya, masterminded the attempted attack. Kuntar became the leader of a militia loyal to Assad and based in Hader, and he has planned multiple attacks against IDF soldiers in the Golan Heights. Kuntar was targeted in an Israeli airstrike last month which killed five people.
Hezbollah has also increased its presence on the Lebanese-Israeli border, joining the Lebanese Army on patrols and exercises, despite restrictions placed on the terror group’s movements in southern Lebanon following the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
Tensions have been mounting along the Syrian border as the Syrian civil war drags on. Several rocket attacks have been sustained, attributed to either Assad’s forces and Syrian rebels. Israel has also allegedly carried out numerous air strikes against attempted weapons shipments from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria.