Israel’s military preparedness is gearing up in the face of Iran’s drive to engineer border aggression across a broad spectrum. This drive has accelerated sharply since the July 14 nuclear accord empowered the Islamic Republic as top dog in the Middle East. With the Hizballah of south Lebanon already in Tehran’s pocket, secret Iranian emissaries have for the first time opened direct talks with Syrian rebel and Palestinian groups and are egging them on to activate a new South Syrian front against Israel.
It was this looming showdown that sent Israel’s top leaders on visits to the Golan and IDF Northern Command headquarters Tuesday, Aug. 18.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott inspected the military forces strung out on the Golan and Lebanese borders. They were then briefed on their disposition against the proliferating threats by OC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi and the heads of the IDF divisions and brigades.
Six alarming events, multiple new fronts
Netanyahu told the troops: “We are here for a close look at the forces and their disposition” and are satisfied that “we are ready to face up to any scenario.” He added: “Anyone wishing to harm us, we will harm them.”
The defense minister accused Iran of seeking to “inflame the region.”
This was the second time in three days that Israel’s security authorities had mentioned the nation’s military preparedness opposite the Syrian Golan and Lebanese borders.
They had in mind six events, disclosed here by DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources:
1. Iranian Al Qods Brigades officers serving in Syria are for the first time in dialogue with certain Syrian rebel leaders. Tehran has hitherto refrained from contacts with President Bashar Assad’s enemies. But as the Syrian war enters its fifth year, the ability of his army and Hizballah ally to pull ahead and win the war is declining. And so, in the last couple of weeks, Tehran has switched course, turning away from the military option to open up highly confidential talks with Syrian rebel groups in search of a political solution for ending the war.
Why not employ Syrian rebels to fight Israel?
2. Tehran’s tactics typically turn to more than one goal. If Iran’s talks with the Syrian rebels ripen into cooperation, its strategists see no reason why they can’t serve a second purpose, namely, the displacement of the US, Jordanian and Israeli footprint in southern Syria, won in the past three years by fostering select Syrian rebel groups.
This goal slipped through Iran’s fingers on the battlefield. The Syrian army and Hizballah forces were beaten back last year when they tried to oust the rebels from the Golan town of Quneitra and the southern Syrian town of Deraa. This setback left Tehran disappointed in its plan to plant a Hizballah missile base on the Syrian Golan face to face with Israeli military positions.
Putting this defeat behind them, the Iranians are trying to persuade Syrian rebel groups to play ball after the long years of confrontation.
3. If they are won over, Israel and Jordan will face a new Iranian-backed belligerent right on their borders for the first time. Neither can rely on the Americans to head off them off when the Obama administration was itself responsible for conferring on Iran its empowered status. In fact, Washington is more than likely to lend the Iranians a helping hand, commending their outreach to the Syrian rebels for a diplomatic resolution of the Syrian war, and playing down Tehran’s aggressive designs as a collateral issue.
Tehran digs out three fanatical terror groups for the Golan front
4. The creation of a new Eastern Front for “effacing” Israel was first revealed by debkafile Monday, Aug. 17.
Alarming intelligence reports reaching Israel in the last two weeks depict Iranian Al Qods Brigades and Hizballah officers in the midst of fashioning a new terrorist network for mounting mass-terrorist attacks inside Israel from a new base on the Syrian-Israeli Golan border.
Iran and Hizballah are handing out anti-tank and anti-air missiles to enable terrorists to seize small Israeli locations or urban districts and hold out against an Israeli tank and attack helicopter counter-offensive.
Our counter-terrorism sources disclose the three radical terrorist movements staffing the new network:
One is the hard-line rejectionist Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC).
Another is the Golan-based Syrian Druze group known as Liberators of the Golan. It is headed by the notorious Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese Druze and former PLO member, who was responsible for the 1979 Nahariya outrage, one of the most brutal terrorist atrocities Israel has experienced.
Also harnessed to Iran’s new Golan terror organization is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) which is made up of radical Christian terrorists. This old timer violent group, which is run by Syrian intelligence, took part in the 1982-3 Hizballah bombing massacres at the US Embassy and Marine headquarters in Beirut.
The word in Israeli intelligence is that SSNP activists have arrived in the Quneitra district of the Golan.
West Bank to receive Iranian missiles – with Abbas’ approval
5. The West Bank Palestinian leader, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, appears to approve the latest Iranian plans.
debkafile Monday revealed the secret presence in Tehran of Abbas’ personal representative, PLO executive member Jmail Majdalani. After he was found out, he denied he was setting up a visit to Tehran by Abbas and claimed he was there to “break the ice” between Iran and the PLO and discuss exchanging ambassadors between Tehran and Ramallah.
Abbas is revealed to be willing to give Iran its first diplomatic presence on the West Bank as well as accepting a military role.
Arming Palestinians with missiles, not just in the Gaza Strip, but on the West Bank too, would gravely imperil Israel’s heavily populated heartland and commercial hub. Tehran is additionally working on a project for bringing the most pernicious terrorist groups in history, forerunners of ISIS, to the Syrian Golan on the edge of northeastern Israel. They would sharpen the efforts of Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip to “efface” Israel, in the phrase of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
6. It is hard to imagine Israel lying down for Iran’s expanded, multifaceted terrorist offensive to go forward, or just waiting to be overwhelmed from five points of assault by Iran’s surrogates along its northern, northeastern and southern borders.
Last minute flash: Four rockets from Syria were fired into northern Israel Thursday night. They exploded in the Galilee “Panhandle,” the Huleh Valley and the Golan. They started fires in kibbutz fields and orchards. A red alert sent people living in the area into shelters. The new terror front engineered by Tehran appears to have gone into action.