A second suspected drone from Syria on Wednesday, April 5, represented an Iranian-Hizballah contribution to the Palestinian terror assault greeting Israelis preparing for the Passover Seder Feast that night. Israel’s lax response to the first drone and 20 Palestinian Hamas-Jihad rockets from Gaza must also be held partly accountable for the multiple terror attack. The Netanyahu government had vainly hoped to de-escalate the Ramadan violence in the hope of a quiet Passover. However, the current outbreak of terror on several fronts turns out to be the result of advanced planning – not just the work of lone individuals – which is why it is hard to expect Egypt’s frequent efforts to broker peace at least on the Gaza front will bear fruit.
The 20 rockets from Gaza came Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in two salvos – the second regardless of an Israeli airstrike against Hamas weapons and arsenals in central Gaza. Since most were intercepted by Iron Dome, no one was directly hurt but a factory was damaged.
The planning for the latest campaign of terror appears to derive, as DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources reveal, from the Syria airfield of Al-Daaba. Situated in the Hizballah-ruled Al-Qusayr region west of Damascus, it is there that Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah have set up a new headquarters for terror operations against Israel. The first suicide drone, which our sources name as an Iranian-made Mohajer 6, flew in from Syria on April 2 and was brought down over northern Israel by electronic jamming, while on its way to hit an Israeli military position on the West Bank. Iran and Hizballah had hoped to score their first joint direct Iranian multi-casualty hit from Syria.
But first, on March 13, an Lebanese infiltrator crossed into Israel through the northern border and planted a roadside bomb at the busy Megiddo road junction. It exploded against a passing car, injuring a local driver, 21-year old Sharaf a-Dine Hamaisi. When the explosive was found to be a military type, the incident was clamped down under a gag order an the surrounded roads searched. The searchers caught up with the bomber in a car and shot him dead when he began fingering his chest. He did indeed have a bomb vest and other weapons.
In the week leading up to Passover, the Israeli air force conducted four raids over Syria, one of them targeting the new Iranian-Hizballah site at Al-Daaba. Several Guards officers were reported to be killed or injured. But their ops center continued to operate, launching one or possible two drones. The second has not been positively identified.
The main focus of attention has always been Temple Mount and Al Aqsa Mosque. Hundreds of masked men gathered inside the mosque on Tuesday night armed with rocks and firecrackers, ready for Wednesday morning when the first Jewish pilgrims were due to visit. When these objects started flying, the Police called on the culprits to surrender; when they stayed put, an elite police force went in and forcibly detained 350 suspected “agitators.”
Israeli spokesman have warned that any major incidents would bring forth serious punishment, but for now efforts are focused on maintaining a calm festival.