ANALYSIS: Israeli-Syrian Border Situation Demands New Strategy
A serious escalation on the Golan Heights has Israeli leaders looking for new ways to confront the Iranian threat
Early in the morning of Wednesday, November 18, Israeli fighter planes and Apache attack helicopters again bombed Iran-related targets in Syria. The reason for this series of attacks, in which five Syrian soldiers, three Iranians, and two members of Iranian-backed militias were killed, was a direct attempt to kill a large number of Israeli army (IDF) soldiers on the Golan Heights.
A group of terrorists belonging to Iranian-backed militias in southern Syria earlier planted three Claymore mines in the ground on Israeli territory along a route where Israeli army (IDF) soldiers regularly patrol. These anti-personnel mines are loaded with 2,000 iron ball-bearings and contain 2.5 kilograms of explosives and have a blast radius of 50 meters. They are detonated by remote-control and designed to cause maximum injury and death.
The goal was clear: to kill as many IDF soldiers as possible. Israeli military experts pointed out that this was the first direct Iranian attempt to launch a land attack on the IDF. Until now, rockets and mortar shells were occasionally fired at the Golan Heights, though another group of terrorists also attempted to approach the Israeli border with improvised bombs and other weapons in August. That attempt was thwarted by the IDF’s Maglan reconnaissance unit which shot the four terrorists dead from the Israeli side of the border.
The escalation was reminiscent of what happened on the night of May 10, 2018, when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Brigade in Syria fired some 30 missiles toward northern Israel. Almost all of these missiles fell on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, but the Israeli response was devastating and much of the Iranian military infrastructure in Syria was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in a counter-attack that night.
Now targets belonging to the Quds Brigade and the Syrian army were bombed in various places in Syria. Among them were barracks, weapons stores, and a headquarters of the Quds Brigade. Surface-to-surface missiles used to shoot at tanks and other vehicles were also destroyed.
In a rare move the IDF later released footage of some of the IAF attacks on targets in Syria and identified Unit 840 of the Quds Force of the Islamitic Revolutionary Guard Corps as the main culprit behind the attempted terror attack.
In the video: The IDF doesn’t normally release targeting footage from its aerial strikes to the media.
The 840 unit of the Quds Force is a secretive operational unit which is tasked with building terror infrastructure outside Iran and is now used to heat-up the border between Syria and Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who visited IDF army units in the Golan area on Tuesday, warned the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad that Israel would hold him responsible for any terrorist action from Syrian territory.
“I am clearly saying Syria is responsible for what happened in its territory,” Gantz warned, while Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu issued a similar statement on Wednesday evening
The increasing tensions on the Golan Heights area prompted the IDF to transfer additional Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to northern Israel and a state of heightened alert was declared.
The aggressive activities against Israel from southern Syria are, furthermore, being coordinated by the Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah, which has stationed units at 28 locations along the Golan Heights border with Israel. There are also militias supported by Iran and Hezbollah located at 30 other locations along the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
Iran has charged Hezbollah with the task to build a large force in southern Syria which is called called the Golan Liberation Brigade. It consists of Shiite militias that were flown in from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
In Israel, the current situation with Hezbollah and the Quds Brigade in Syria is called “the war between the wars” (MABAM is the Hebrew acronym).
The IAF has carried out hundreds of attacks on Iran-related targets in Syria over the past four years trying to prevent any weapons and missile transport from Iran to Syria with those attacks.
According to former IDF general and current Knesset member Uzi Dayan, Israel should now start to use the large Druze community in southern Syria to form a military force in order to confront the Iranians and their allies.
The Druze hate the Iranians for their dominant presence in the area and, if they had weapons, they could revolt against Hezbollah, the Quds Brigade and the Iranian militias present in the area, according to Dayan
The Druze could raise a force of tens of thousands of warriors and are known for their fighting spirit. Dayan added that the Druze could make the difference in the complicated situation in southern Syria and they should be aided by the Arab Gulf states and Saudi Arabia which have the finances to provide them with weapons and other necessary equipment.
The Druze in Syria are anti-Israel and therefore will not accept Israeli assistance. They are, however, too independent to dance to the tune of Iran, Dayan added that the Druze could restore stability in southern Syria and with it the calm on the border with Israel that existed for more than 40 years after the Yom Kippur War.
Military aid for the Druze could be one of the topics in the current talks between Israel, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates with whom the Jewish state recently concluded peace deals.
These two Gulf States are very fearful of Iran’s aggressive expansion activities in the Middle East and this was the main reason they made peace with Israel which is the regional superpower in The Middle East.