The Israel Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday evening preempted an Iranian drone or missile strike on the Golan Heights.
While evening news programs were speculating about President Donald Trump’s long-awaited announcement that the United States would ditch the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran, news came in that the IDF had ordered municipalities on the Golan Heights to open public bomb shelters on the mountainous plateau.
Prior to this shock announcement there was highly unusual IAF activity in northern Israel.
An hour before Trump announced that the US would leave the “rotten” deal with Iran, a host of IAF warplanes were patrolling the skies in north-east Israel.
At 10 PM, the unusual IAF activity suddenly stopped, and after that only the sound of drones was audible from the ground.
These drones were reconnaissance aircraft that were hovering over Mount Hermon, the Sheeba Farms and the Syria-Israel border, according to Lebanese media.
It later became clear what exactly had triggered the IDF warning to prepare bomb shelters on the Golan Heights.
Israeli intelligence had detected unusual Iranian activity in both Lebanon and Syria.
Iran appeared to be preparing for the long-anticipated retaliation against Israel after a string of IAF strikes on Iranian bases in Syria, and after the Mossad humiliated the Islamic Republic by stealing thousands files documenting Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program from a warehouse in Tehran.
Arab and Israeli media later reported IAF warplanes had launched a preemptive strike on the Iranian al-Kiswah base south of Damascus.
The base is in use by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah. The same base was previously hit by the Israel Air Force in December 2017.
Al-Kiswah is used by the IRGC for multiple military purposes and as a launching pad for drone operations, according to experts.
On April 19, Iran reportedly used the base in a first attempt to strike Israel with three drones, just as it had done on February 10 when a large Iranian attack drone loaded with explosives infiltrated Israeli air space in the area of Bet Shean in the northern Jordan Valley.
The attempted Iranian strike against Israel on April 19 was reportedly foiled by the Russian military, which interdicted or shot down the Iranian drones before they could reach Israeli airspace.
The new IAF strike at al-Kiswah reportedly killed nine “pro-regime fighters” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, while Syrian state-controlled media claimed two Israeli missiles were intercepted.
CCTV video footage taken at al-Kiswah showed the impact of the IAF strike which included secondary explosions, an indication Israel had again hit an explosives, missile or ammunition depot at the base.
Israel's Channel 2 later reported IAF warplanes had launched the strike from the Syrian Golan Heights, and not from east Lebanon as was done in earlier attacks against Iranian targets in Syria.
The timing of the attempted Iranian retaliation against Israel, which coincided with Trump’s announcement he would ditch the nuclear agreement, suggests the Iranians were planning to make good on their promise to deliver “special surprises” whenever the US would quit the deal.
The Iranian military, however, is no match for the US army, and is also not able to engage Israel in a conventional war because both the Israeli and American air forces are able to destroy crucial military and economic infrastructure in Iran within minutes.
From the port of Kargh, for example, Iran exports 90 percent of its oil, while only eight refineries in the country produce 80 percent of the fuel it consumes.
The Islamist regime in Tehran has used disruptive and asymmetric warfare since the devastating war with Iraqi in the 1980s, indicating Iran is the weaker power in its conflict with the US and Israel.
For this reason, the Quds Force of the IRGC has always used proxies to hit Israel, and will continue to do so while being careful not to trigger all-out war with the Jewish state.
Yesterday’s IAF strike at the al-Kiswah base shows Israel is determined to prevent Iran’s military built up in Syria and has learned from the Lebanon scenario where it allowed Iran and Hezbollah to take over the country and to threaten the Jewish state with roughly 130,000 missiles.