Israel's relatively wide-ranging response in Syria at the end of last week to Islamic Jihad rocket fire from the Golan Heights seems to have created significant deterrence, former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin said on Monday.
Yadlin, the Zionist Union’s candidate for defense minister in the last elections and current head of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, backed the IDF action that included killing the five-member squad that Jerusalem says fired four rockets into Israel on Thursday.
Israel’s response to the rocket attacks on the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee also included the army directing artillery fire at 14 military targets in Syria.
This reaction, Yadlin said, was “very right,” as it first of all “extracted a price from the cell,” responsible for the attacks, but also hit elements of the Syrian regime and made it clear that this type of activity will not be tolerated.
In an Israel Radio interview, Yadlin said that when the army decides to embark on this type of response, “there is always a tension between the desire to create deterrence, and a concern about escalation. With the relatively short perspective, I think there was success there in creating significant deterrence, but we must always be prepared that there will be an escalation.”
Yadlin said that while Iran is stirring up matters in both Lebanon and Syria, neither Iran nor Hezbollah is interested in launching activity against Israel from the Lebanese border.
“Hezbollah is up to its neck in its activity in Syria, and fighting with [Syrian President Bashar] Assad against the rebels,” he said. “So it is more comfortable for it and for Iran that the anti-Israel activity be from the Golan Heights.”
Yadlin said that Iran tried to have Hezbollah direct this activity, but that the group was not overly cooperative. After Israel killed Jihad Mughniyeh – commander of the Syrian Golan sector – in a January air strike, Iran turned to another of its regional proxies: Islamic Jihad.
According to Yadlin, Iran’s terrorist activities today are for the most part directed against Israel.
Currently Europe – and to a certain degree the US – is more concerned about Islamic Statebacked terrorism, rather than terrorism emanating from Iran.
Yadlin also blasted the leak of tapes this week in which former defense minister Ehud Barak is heard saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to attack Iran in 2010 were stymied by Moshe Ya’alon – now the defense minister – and Yuval Steinitz, currently national infrastructure, energy and water minister. The leak of these tapes, he said , was “very grave” and harms the country’s national security.
“As the head of Military Intelligence,” he said, “ I would have been very happy if someone would have transferred to me the reports and stenographs of the secret discussions of the Iranian, Syrian, or Hezbollah leadership. The way the leadership of the country thinks, and what strategic considerations are guiding them, is an intelligence asset for our enemies, and it was a great pity that it was leaked out,” he added.
Yadlin said that the leak also harms the ability of the country’s leaders to hold open and intimate discussions in the future, because there will be the constant concern that everything discussed will be similarly revealed at a future date.