Tehran Monday, Dec. 28, further ramped up the tension between its Lebanese proxy Hizballah, whose leader Sunday threatened to avenge the death of Samir Quntar, and Israel, which is conducting a military exercise along its northern borders. Four days after Quntar was assassinated in Damascus, Tehran appointed a successor to carry on building a new terrorist network for striking Israel from the Golan.
This successor is revealed by debkafile’s exclusive sources as a Lebanese called Raafat Al-Bakkar, about whom very little is known. According to our sources, the Iranians spotted Al-Bakkar as promising talent earlier this year, shortly after the Israeli air strike which on Jan. 18 killed Iranian Gen. Ali Dadi and the high-profile Hizballah leader Jihad Moughniyeh. They were caught touring the Golan around Quneitra in search of a site for a terrorist base. Al-Bakkar was sent to Tehran at that time for a course in building and running terrorist networks, and this week he was given charge of the new “National Resistance on the Golan” organization for deep strikes inside Israel.
When Nasrallah boasted Sunday that his jihadists were already on their way to punish Israel, he was looking forward to the arrival of Quntar’s successor.
See DEBKA files’ earlier report from Sunday, Dec. 27.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkott explained why it was necessary to bring forward the launching of the new Commando Brigade by two months, when he addressed the formation ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 27, at the Ein Harod National Park: “The Commando Brigade is more necessary than ever in light of the threats from Hizballah and the Islamic State,” he said, in reference to the boasts heard in the last 48 hours from Hassan Nasrallah and Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi.
The Chief of Staff introduced Col. David Zini as the first commander of the new Brigade.
The ceremony took place shortly after the Hizballah chief Hassan Nasrallah said, “Revenge for the death of Samir Quntar is on the way… The orders have been given and execution is in the hands of resistance fighters on the ground… The Israelis are worried and rightly so – those on the borders [soldiers] and those inside the country…. We shall not let the blood of our Jihadi fighters and brothers to be spilled anywhere in the world,” he said.
debkafile’s military sources report: Analysis of the kinds of threats posed by Hizballah (and ISIS) at this time, which are likely to focus more on terrorism than on tank or infantry border incursions, persuaded IDF leaders of the need for a new framework for bringing under one roof some of the top-notch, highly-trained, experienced, well-armed and determined fighting men who are willing to take on new challenges.
The self-styled Islamic State's “caliph” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, also devoted special attention to Israel, or rather “the Jews,” in his first audio speech in seven months Saturday, Dec. 26, the day before Nasrallah sounded off. His message was similar to that of his Shiite enemy, albeit in his own inimitable style:
The Islamic State would soon be in Palestine to establish an Islamic state there, he said, "Jews, soon you shall hear from us in Palestine which will become your grave… The Jews thought we had forgotten Palestinian… Not at all, Jews…The pioneers of the jihadist fighters are getting closer every day.”
If and when the Shiite Hizballah and Sunni ISIS make good on their similar but separate threats – or sooner – they will encounter Israel’s new Commando Brigade. Its fighting men are trained for combat in miscellaneous conditions of terrain, day or night, under deep cover. They are equipped with high-tech equipment, most of it classified, for gathering visual and electronic intelligence, communications, photography and targeting. They may either kill terrorists or take them captive.
In a word, these elite troops will hit the enemy in his back yard or at home, and blow the threats heard from Hizballah and ISIS leaders’ back on their own forces.
The 89th Commando Brigade is composed of four battalions:
Duvdevan specializes in operating amidst an Arab population under deep cover for locating and arresting terror suspects.
Egoz is a special kind of infantry battalion, whose commandos operate solo or in very small teams behind enemy lines, especially across the Syrian and Lebanese borders.
Maglan is skilled in the use of weaponry designed for precision operations against high quality enemy targets. These elite fighters go deep inside enemy territory to gather intelligence and use their specialized technology, exclusive for the use of this unit, for devastating assaults.
Rimon members are desert fighters who gained their experience in the terrain of the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Their experience as back-up for operations against drug smugglers is invaluable for urban combat in civilian environments.
Excluded from the new brigade are the separate IDF commando units: Sayeret Matkal, Shayetet 13 (Navy), the Oketz unit which trains dogs for anti-terror work, and Yahalom, of the Engineering Corps.