Iranian forces are moving back from Israel’s border to northern and eastern Syria and arming Shiite proxies with surface missiles. This is reported in the Israeli Military Intelligence (AMAN) Estimate 2019, laid before the government two weeks ago and divided into two sections: pre- and post-election. The document foresees heightened tensions on the Gaza and northern fronts in the coming months.
After the April 9 general election, the next government will
have to take a stand on President Donald Trump’s ”Deal of the Century” for resolving
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a challenge which does not figure in any
In the run-up to the election, AMAN predicts the following events:
- The Gaza Strip will heat up. Already this week, thousands of Palestinians are gathering night after night on the Gaza border to attack Israeli troops with explosive devices and hand grenades. The explosions cause alarm in neighboring Israeli communities.
- The northern front, including the Golan, will see escalating violence from across the Syrian border. The Iranian Al Qods Brigades and Hizballah will be choosing their moment to fire missiles into Israel, taking advantage of the Russian presence somewhat inhibiting Israeli payback.
- Palestinian terrorists will raise the stakes in Judea and Samaria so as to cast a pall on Israel’s election, encouraged by Moscow’s first supportive intervention in the Palestinian arena. The first Palestinian unity conference is taking place this week with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the chair. DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that the Palestinians reckon that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, when he arrives in the Russian capital on Feb. 21, will find in the Kremlin a newly friendly face for the Palestinian cause. Therefore, Iran and Syria won’t be the only items on the agenda of his talks with President Vladimir Putin.
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The Intelligence Estimate points to changes in Iran’s Syrian deployment. Its forces are described as pulling away from proximity with Israel’s northern border and regrouping in northern and eastern Syria. This redeployment is cause for concern in Israel. Rather than being driven back under the pressure of Israel’s aerial and missile assaults, Tehran aims to take advantage of the coming withdrawal of US troops from Syria to extend its strategic depth into Iraq, from which Iranian missiles can reach Israel. The Iranians are expected to leave their Shiite militias behind for dealing with the Israel front and arm them with ground-to-ground, short-range ballistic missiles. Israel’s northern front is therefore not moving farther away, it is expanding into Iraq and, in addition to the rockets piled up by Hizballah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Israel is now faced with ballistic missiles from Iraq and close by.