Israel Air Force helicopters fired missiles at a target in the Syrian Golan on Sunday, killing six Hezbollah members, Lebanese media reports said. The IDF said it would not comment on foreign media reports, and would neither confirm nor deny the strike occurred.
Five to six members of Hezbollah, including Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of former Hezbollah operations chief Imad Mughniyeh, were killed in the strike, according to the reports. According to Western intelligence sources, Jihad Mughniyeh headed a large-scale terrorist cell that enjoyed direct Iranian sponsorship and a direct link to Hezbollah. The cell had already targeted Israel in the past, launching attacks on the Golan Heights.
Mughniyeh was believed to have been in the planning stages of additional deadly terrorist attacks against Israel in the Golan Heights, which would have included rockets, cross-border infiltrations, border bombings, and anti-tank fire, designed to kill IDF soldiers and Israeli civilians who live in the Golan.
Imad Mughniyeh was killed in 2008 in a car-bombing widely attributed to Israel in the foreign media.
AFP cited an Israeli security source saying the strike had targeted purported terrorists planning an attack.
Lebanese news portal El-Nashra reported that a senior Hezbollah commander was targeted in the strike. The missiles hit near Quneitra, close to the Israeli border, reports said.
“An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles on Amal Farms in Quneitra,” the Lebanese news channel said, adding that two reconnaissance planes were also flying over the area.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain- based group monitoring the civil war, said the missiles fired on Sunday targeted armored vehicles, citing local sources. It said it did not know if the vehicles belonged to the Syrian army, Hezbollah or anti-Assad insurgents.
In October 2014, a senior IDF source said all terrorism directed against Israel from the Syrian border and every deliberate incident of cross-border fire or bomb attack was launched by the Shi’ite Hezbollah-Iranian axis, not radical Sunni organizations.
Foreign media reports have attributed a number of air strikes in Syria to Israel over the past several years, although Israel has refused to confirm the reports.
In the most recent such incident, Syrian state television reported in December 2014 that Israeli jets had bombed targets near Damascus International Airport and in the town of Dimas, near the Lebanese border.
Yoav Galant, a reserve major-general running with Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu Party, criticized the timing of the strike, saying it was no coincidence that it happened before the elections.
In response, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Ofir Akunis (Likud) said: “some candidates will say anything to hurt the government and its leader.
“New, politically inexperienced candidates should be careful with their words, which are just meant to bring another seat to their party,” Akunis added. “Kahlon should tell Mr. Galant to calm down and instruct him to stop chattering himself to death.”
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said Galant’s accusation is the low point of the current election campaign.
“Galant’s words are unnecessary and disappointing and can be ammunition for our enemies,” Bennett said. “I call on Moshe Kahlon to instruct Galant to take what he said back before it causes damage.”Lahav Harkov and Maariv Hashavua’s Noam Amir contributed to this report.