Nasrallah’s latest war speech is taken literally by Israeli military chiefs
The Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s belligerent speech Sunday night, May 25, on the 14th anniversary of the IDF’s withdrawal from south Lebanon, was taken by Israel’s top military chiefs as the precursor for operational plans to bring his forces up to the Israel border in South Syria and the Golan – not just to fight Syrian rebels, but to challenge the IDF.
This conclusion is shared by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and his deputy Maj. Gen. Gady Eizenkott. debkafile’s military sources say they have been watching the spate of reports Damascus and Beirut have been planting in the last fortnight, which describe Hizballah as poised for a major offensive to prevent Syrian rebels taking Quneitra opposite Israel’s Golan border.
The Israeli army is accused of backing them with firepower.
The official Saudi publication Okaz reported Saturday, May 17, that Hizballah had sent surveillance teams to the battle ground to lay the ground for an operation to keep the vitally important Golan town from falling to rebel forces.
The next day, Sunday, Damascus issued an official notice of the death of Lt. Gen. Hussein Ishaq, Syrian Air Defense Chief, of wounds he sustained Saturday in an Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra attack on the Mleia base outside Damascus.
The Syrian government is known never to report the deaths of high-ranking officers. This unusual release raised suspicions in Western intelligence sources. They wondered what an officer so senior was doing in this small base, and how he came to be caught up in a local firefight.
The answer they came up with was that the late general was sent to Mleia to prepare Syria’s air defenses as cover for a Hizballah operation. The rebels discovered this and ambushed his convoy before it reached the base.
Other Saudi sources disclosed Saturday, May 24 that the Iranian Al Qods Brigades chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who is in charge of his country’s military operations in the Syria conflict, had arrived in Damascus to study the state of battle on the Golan, although no other source has confirmed this.
From the Israeli side, our sources report that no major Hizballah troop advances have been sighted heading in the direction of southern Syria and the Golan – only the advance surveillance teams which turned up briefly last week on the Syrian side of the Hermon range overlooking the Golan.
Nevertheless, Nasrallah’s speech set off alarm signals.
In all the many pugnacious speeches the Hizballah chief has delivered against Israel in his 22 years as secretary general of the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, he has never before gone into detail on the intelligence he claims to have obtained on IDF operations. But in his latest peroration, he did just that – in reference to alleged IDF actions in southern Syria.
“When the senior strategist of Hizballah – or any military group – shows off his intelligence on enemy moves in detail, that is a declaration of war,” said one Western military source.
Nasrallah made it clear he was not talking about Israel’s medical aid to rebels wounded in battle, but the IDF fire he said was aimed at Syrian units and positions on the Golan. Its purpose, he said, was to carve out a security zone in southern Syria.
“This would not be a ‘good fence,’” he said (in reference to the friendly border between South Lebanon and Israel in the years 1978 and 2000, that was manned by the IDF-founded South Lebanese Army). It will be much more than that.”
Nasrallah accused Israel of incursions across the “land border between Hizballah and Israel,” including the shooting of farmers. “Until now we haven’t reacted, but left it to the Lebanese army and UNIFIL,” he said. “But no more: For the next violations, we will hit back at once,” he said.
This was taken by Israel’s military chiefs as a threat by Hizballah to make war on Israel from two fronts: Lebanon and Syria.