The IDF and all of the armies involved in the Syrian civil war, namely those of Russia, Syria and Iran, went on their highest war alert on Thursday, Dec. 31 when all their intelligence organizations reported that Hassan Nasrallah could not be stopped from attacking Israel, in revenge for the assassination of Samir Quntar in Damascus on December 20.
More than one intermediary visited Beirut to avert the Hizballah attack and its deadly fallout, including a former senior officer of the German BND foreign intelligence service. According to debkafile’s intelligence sources, Gerhard Conrad, late of the BND and incumbent director of the European Union’s Intelligence and Situation Center, was given this urgent mission by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He came away from a meeting with Nasrallah on Dec. 29, with the news that the Hizballah chief was not open to persuasion and the attack was already underway.
Conrad has excellent connections in the Arab world, especially in Syria and Lebanon. Seven years ago, he acted as intermediary between Israel and Hizballah for negotiating the recovery of the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, in exchange for the handover of that same Hizballah high-up Samir Quntar and other jailed and convicted Arab terrorists.
The German spy-diplomat then established personal connections with a shadowy figure, Wafik Safa, who is in charge of Hizballah’s intelligence and security network and a close crony of Nasrallah.
Conrad used those connections again in 2011 to broker the release of Gilead Shalit from Hamas captivity.
It was Safa he arranged for him to meet Nasrallah in Beirut Tuesday. He found the Hizballah chief unshakeable in his determination to make Israel pay for Quntar’s death, even at the cost of a painful backlash against the Shiite group's terrorists in Syria and Lebanon.
He was unmoved by the warning issued by Israel’s chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Gady Eisenkott, on Monday, just hours before the Conrad mission. Eisenkott said, “Just as we have proven in the past, we know how to strike anyone who wishes to harm us. Our enemies know they will suffer grave consequences if they try to undermine our security.”
Upon receipt of the German emissary’s report on the meeting, Eisenkott, his deputy, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, and OC Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, inspected the preparedness of the IDF’s northern border defenses for all contingencies.
They took into account a scenario, whereby Nasrallah would take advantage of the stormy weather forecast for the weekend in Syria, Lebanon and Israel, to strike Israel, in the knowledge that the heavy rain and snow would impede Israeli air force activity and give the Hizballah operation a tactical edge.
Russian military and Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces in Syria have taken into account that a Hizballah attack will not go unanswered by Israel and that the IDF would most likely hit back at Hizballah on Syrian soil, thus ushering in the New Year with a new whirlwind.