Iranian general Mohammed Allahdadi was the target of Israel’s alleged aerial strike on the Golan Heights Sunday, a Kuwaiti newspaper reported Thursday, countering anonymous Israeli claims that Israel was unaware of Allahdadi’s presence in the targeted convoy.
A source also told the paper that Iran was unlikely to respond directly but would instead continue to arm Hezbollah.
An unnamed Israeli official told Reuters on Tuesday that Israel was sure it was striking “an enemy field unit that was on its way to carry out an attack on us at the frontier fence” rather than a high-ranking Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) general.
But anonymous “knowledgeable sources” told Kuwaiti daily al-Rai that Israel knew exactly who was in the convoy, and why he was visiting the Golan Heights.
Allahdadi was killed along with six Hezbollah members, including two top commanders, in an airstrike in the Syrian Golan Heights Sunday. The attack, which Jerusalem has declined to officially comment on, served to raise regional tensions, as Israel braced for a possible retaliatory action.
“The Israeli statements are an attempt to bury their heads in the sand. Israel knew full well who was in the car convoy it attacked through its monitoring of communications,” the source told al-Rai. “The target was not Jihad Mughniyeh, [another of the dead] who worked in [Hezbollah’s] Protection Agency, but the IRGC commander.”
Allahdadi and Hezbollah commander Muhammad Issa, who was also killed in the strike, were touring the Golan as part of a strategic bid to turn the Syrian border with Israel into a confrontation zone, just as Hezbollah had done along the Lebanese border during the 1990s, the Kuwaiti report claimed.
After the strike, many assumed that Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh (who was killed in a 2008 operation widely attributed to Israel), had been the target of the strike.
Some reports also indicated that the strike had targeted a team setting up a missile base to launch strikes against Israel.
Issa had gained experience in highland warfare against Israel as commander of the Tuffah region in southern Lebanon, the Kuwaiti paper said, and was in the process of translating his expertise to Syria as head of Hezbollah’s special operations unit in the country.
Allahdadi was also no stranger to the Syrian Golan, and had visited the area before as Iran’s most senior adviser to the Hezbollah fighters, a position he assumed in late 2014, the newspaper added.
Allahdadi had obtained a Syrian SIM card and left Damascus for Quneitra an hour and a half before the aerial strike, giving Israeli decision makers plenty of time to ascertain his presence in the convoy, the source asserted.
“Therefore, circles close to Iran believe that Tehran received the [Israeli] message loud and clear, and does not take Israel’s shirking of responsibility seriously,” he said.
Since the attack did not take place in Iran but rather on Syrian soil, the Islamic Republic cannot respond with a direct strike against Israel, the source opined. Instead, it will prefer to “serve its revenge cold” by continuing to fortify the Golan front, and arm Hezbollah and Assad.
“Iranian airplanes transfer weapons to Syria and Hezbollah on a daily basis through Damascus airport, and the Israeli strike can do nothing about that,” he said. “The Israeli decision to strike the convoy in Quneitra is a symbolic military victory, due to the importance of those in it, but bears no tactical or strategic significance.”