ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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IDF: Man arrested after crossing from Syria involved in Hezbollah intel-gathering

Military says investigation of Ghaith Abdullah uncovers other members of so-called ‘Golan File,’ who are planning attacks against Israel

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli soldiers patrol the border fence with Syria, in southern Golan Heights, on January 29, 2023. Insert: Ghaith Abdullah, an alleged Hezbollah operative. (Michael Giladi/Flash90; Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli soldiers patrol the border fence with Syria, in southern Golan Heights, on January 29, 2023. Insert: Ghaith Abdullah, an alleged Hezbollah operative. (Michael Giladi/Flash90; Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday said a suspect who had been detained by troops after crossing the border from Syria into the Golan Heights last month was involved in efforts by the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group to gather intelligence on Israel for future attacks.

Ghaith Abdullah, according to the IDF, was part of the so-called “Golan File.” He was detained alongside another man, who was apparently uninvolved in the Hezbollah efforts.

The military said Abdullah and the second man were detained by soldiers of the elite Egoz unit on the eastern side of the border fence — built in Israeli territory — near the Syrian village of al-Asbah on January 27, following “substantial intelligence efforts.”

“During the questioning, Ghaith [Abdullah] provided information regarding additional terrorist operatives that promote terrorist activities in the area of the border,” the IDF said in a statement.

The IDF said Abdullah was a squad commander involved in advancing attacks against Israel. The military named another operative in his squad, the leader of another squad, and a Syrian man involved in recruiting new members.

“The IDF will not tolerate any terrorist activity from southern Syria and will maintain the sovereignty of the State of Israel,” it added.

Hezbollah fighters pose with the terror group’s flags (yellow) and flags bearing the names of venerated Shiite Muslim figures (black) during a ceremony to lay the foundation for a site for ‘jihadist tourism,’ at a camp formerly run by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Lebanon to train Hezbollah fighters, in the Janta region in the east of the country, on August 19, 2022. (AFP)

The Hezbollah plot — known within the organization as the Golan File — mostly involves collecting intelligence and recruiting operatives, but also has weaponry in its possession, namely explosives, light arms, machine guns, and antitank missiles, according to the IDF.

While Israel’s military does not as a rule comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country, over the last decade.

Many of the strikes have targeted the Golan File and other Iranian efforts to entrench themselves on Israel’s border with Syria, including one such strike in December.

The IDF says it also attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

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