The Lebanese Hizballah is about to turn Israel’s northern borders into active warfronts. Early Wednesday, March 5, an Israeli patrol sighted a group planting a roadside bomb at the Syrian-Israeli border fence near Merom Hagolan, The patrol opened light arms, then tank, fire on the miscreants and reported hitting targets. Only five days ago, Hizballah launched two rockets against an IDF Golan outpost, causing no harm. The explosions resounded across the Golan and Upper Galilee, but it took the IDF spokesman several hours to confirm that an Israeli post was attacked from the Hermon range for the first time since the Syrian war broke out three years ago. The official first tried claiming the rockets were strays from the Syrian war.
Military sources, while attributing the bomb-planting bid to Hizballah, stressed that its operatives did not cross the border.
The road bomb attempt Wednesday was the second Hizballah attack on an Israeli military target since Israeli air strikes of Feb. 24, on a Hizballah arms convoy and missile batteries on the Lebanon-Syrian border, for which the Lebanese Shiite group vowed revenge.
Israeli military officials have been hemming and hawing about these incidents, debkafile reports, because they are under government orders to make sure that nothing major occurs to mar Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States. When he returns home at week’s end, he will decide how and when to respond to Hizballah’s provocations.
This delay has two drawbacks:
1. It gives Hizballah – and possibly Syria – free rein to do as they please for the next few days.
2. The delayed Israeli response may indeed egg them both on to continue – or even escalate – their military assaults with Iranian backing.
The diplomatic groundwork was laid for an escalation in a long interview President Bashar Assad's communications adviser Bouthaina Shaaban gave Monday March 3 to the Lebanese Hizballah mouthpiece, the al-Mayadeen news network.
She accused Israeli military and intelligence of intervening in southern Syria, claiming its officers were overseeing the activity of three Syrian rebel militias, setting targets for them and advising them on assault tactics.
debkafile's military and intelligence sources say that Shaaban pointedly aired her charges over a Hizballah media outlet in order to build a case for Syrian and Hizballah reprisals across their borders with Israel. She was saying that if the IDF may operate inside Syria, Tthe Syrians and Hizballah are equally entitled to attack Israel – certainly on the divided Golan.
The Syrian official furthermore gave Israel due warning that the attacks from Syria and Lebanon would escalate with official approval from Damascus and Beirut. Our military sources add that neither would have launched even a low-key military campaign against Israel without sanction from Tehran.
Read more about this new Middle East war arena and the US-backed Israel preparations to confront it – as well as forward analyses of the Ukraine crisis – in the coming DEBKA Weekly issue out Friday.
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