Israel’s top leaders marked the second round of nuclear talks between the Six Powers and Iran opening in Vienna Tuesday, Feb. 18, with a visit to injured Syrians in care at the IDF field hospital at the foot of Tel Hazaka in central Golan. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: “I would like to tell the world today that Iran has changed neither its aggressive policy nor its brutal character. Iran continues to support the Assad regime which is slaughtering its own people. This is the true face of Iran, The world cannot forget this.”
Netanyahu was flanked by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yair Golan.
In Vienna, meanwhile, “the world” listened to Iran’s senior negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Afaqchi, who told reporters that his government would not discuss any issue related to the military aspects of its nuclear program, certainly not missiles.
“The world” had not a word to say to challenge this statement.
Israel made advance preparations for the Golan occasion Tuesday:
1. Monday, the international media were informed that 49 southern Syrian rebel militias had amalgamated and were in place in areas abutting Israeli: Their mission is twofold: To hold back from the Israeli border any Syrian government forces heading in from the north and Al Qaeda fighters approaching from the east.
The Presidents of American Jewish Organizations who are on a trip to Israel were informed of this development – but not the Israeli media.
2. The foreign press were also informed of a major Israeli military redeployment on the Golan. The newly-formed Bashan Territorial Division was stationed on the Israeli side of the divided enclave in January, as a a high-tech bulwark for Israel’s Syrian border.
Part of the IDF’s Northern Command, Bashan includes a new combat intelligence collection battalion armed with the special capabilities of “geospatial technology” (ESRI) for enhancing “situational awareness.” It is equipped with the advanced mobile MARS sensor-fused intelligence system and the latest versions of the Tzayad digital C4ISR networks – both by Elbit Systems - for tracking moving targets, analyzing their patterns and threats and sharing the data at top speed with field units.
But it was sheer luck that saved Israel’s top leaders who exited Golan minutes before two mortar shells landed near the field hospital and exploded without causing any harm.
This was not thought to be a random incident. It recalled the firing of two rockets from the Gaza Strip on Jan. 13, minutes after Israeli leaders attending the late prime minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral at his farm near Beersheba had left the scene. The incoming rockets then failed to trigger any alert systems or even the Iron Dome anti-missile battery deployed nearby.