The reported Israeli strike on Syria on Sunday, in which an Iranian general and top Hezbollah commanders were among 12 killed, targeted the leaders of a substantial new Hezbollah terror hierarchy that was set to attempt kidnappings, rocket attacks and other assaults on military and civilian targets in northern Israel, an Israeli TV report said Friday.
The new terror unit involved Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh, who was killed in the strike, and who was coordinating with the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Qasem Soleimani, the Channel 2 report said. There was no suggestion in the report that Soleimani, a key figure in supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah, was in the area at the time.
The terrorist hierarchy included recruitment and intelligence departments, and was set to begin operations targeting Israel from the Syrian Golan, including “kidnappings, firing rockets and mortar shells, and using anti-tank weapons against Israeli residential areas.”
The unit was set up “with Iranian sponsorship,” the report said. Israel’s targeting of some of its members underlined that “a red line was crossed that Israel would not tolerate.”
Hezbollah, Syria and Iran have all vowed to strike at Israel in the wake of the attack. There have been conflicting reports as to whether Israel knew that Iranian general Mohammed Allahdadi was in the convoy struck on Sunday. Israel has not acknowledged responsibility for the strike.
The TV report said Israel was braced for a response. If that response targeted Israeli civilians, however, subsequent Israeli retaliation would endanger the Assad regime in Syria, Channel 2’s military commentator Roni Daniel said. He did not state a source for that assertion.
Israel has bolstered its forces and raised the military alert in the north over the past few days.
Israel will not tolerate any attempts to destabilize its northern border and will respond with force to any attack, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Friday on a tour of the northern front with military leaders, as the army remained on high alert in the area. “We must be prepared for any attempt to challenge us, in view of the statements being made on the other said,” Ya’alon said, adding that Israel would hold the governments of its neighboring nations responsible for any attack.
IDF Chief of General Staff Lt-Gen. Benny Gantz also visited the Northern Command’s headquarters and said security forces were “very alert, very primed, very prepared for any action that will be required” of them.