Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon visiting the IDF Northern Command headquarters with Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi to his right.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon vowed that Israel will not tolerate attempts to harm it, and would respond “with force against any such attempt,” on a visit to the IDF’s Northern Command headquarters.
The North remained tense but calm on Saturday, as the IDF maintained its level of alert. No unusual incidents occurred throughout the day. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.
Benny Gantz remained in the North throughout the weekend.
Lebanese media reported Israel Air Force activity over southern Lebanon.
The IAF routinely carries out intelligence gathering flights in the area.
Ya’alon visited the Northern Command’s headquarters in Safed on Friday and heard a security evaluation.
He was joined by the Northern Command chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi (who was until recently commander of Military Intelligence), the head of the Operations Branch Maj.-Gen. Yoav Har-Even and other senior command officers.
The defense minister heard about the latest IDF preparations in the North designed to ensure maximum readiness, after an air strike on Sunday killed 12 senior Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives near Quneitra, Syria.
The targets of the strike included Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the late Hezbollah terrorist operations commander, senior Hezbollah member Muhammad Issa, and IRGC Gen. Muhammad Ali Allahdadi. According to Western intelligence sources, the operatives were in the middle of planning a series of rocket attacks, bombings, antitank missile strikes and infiltrations against Israel.
“We must be prepared for any attempt to challenge us in light of calls heard on the other side,” Ya’alon said, referring to calls in Iran to attack Israel. “We must continue to keep calm and be patient, and know how to respond in the most suitable manner, which will clarify to all who try to harm us that we will not tolerate provocations from any area.”
“Israel will view governments, regimes and organizations that lie beyond its northern border as being responsible for what happens in their territory, and it knows how to exact a price in any case of harm to Israeli sovereignty, civilians or soldiers,” he warned. “I call on residents of the North and visitors to maintain their daily routines, and listen to IDF instructions if necessary.
We will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sound judgment to safeguard the security of Israeli civilians.”
Gantz visited the Northern Command on Friday, saying that military forces are “following what is happening here.”
“We are very prepared and alert for any operation that is required.
The public is correctly maintaining its routine. The North is quiet, strong and steadfast. The IDF is prepared for any mission,” he said.
The IDF operates a multitude of border sensors and field intelligence collection units across the Lebanese and Syrian borders.
Last week, as part of steps designed to boost readiness, the IDF increased its presence in the North, in the form of artillery, infantry and armored units. The IAF has also gone on alert to decrease response times to incidents.
Army forces moved into civilian areas on Friday to offer an additional layer of defense.
Northern Command officers have held meetings with local government representatives, telling them to expect an increase in military traffic on the ground and air force traffic overhead.