An IDF soldier stands atop a tank near Alonei Habashan on the Golan Heights, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli military officials are on high alert Monday in response to Hezbollah threats to respond to Sunday’s alleged IAF helicopter attack on a convoy which killed at least six senior operatives on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
In an interview with Army Radio, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, the former head of Military Intelligence, said that the Shi’ite group “will have difficulty absorbing an incident like this [without responding].”
“I don’t think this was an attack aimed at harming Hezbollah,” said Yadlin, who currently heads the Institute for National Security Studies. “I think this was a preemptive operation specifically targeting Hezbollah’s activities on the Golan Heights.”
Yadlin told Army Radio that in his estimation, Hezbollah has no desire to launch attacks against Israel from southern Lebanon. Instead, it wishes to exploit the vacuum that has emerged on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights since the escalation of the civil war there.
“Hezbollah has built an organization on the Golan Heights, and it seems that it is easier for it to operate from there against Israel,” he said. “Hezbollah is very active in Syria with its support for the Assad government and its war against Islamic elements like the Al-Nusra Front and Islamic State.”
“Hezbollah and [its secretary-general, Hassan] Nasrallah will have to consult with their Iranian masters and take into consideration whether a fierce response will drag the region into war,” Yadlin said.
When asked whether the attack on the Golan Heights was motivated by electoral considerations, as was implied by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant, the former GOC Southern Command who joined forces with Moshe Kahlon’s Koolanu party, Yadlin dismissed the notion.
“I know this chief of staff [Benny Gantz] very well,” Yadlin said. “And I know the deputy chief of staff and the incoming chief of staff [Gadi Eizenkot]. These are responsible professionals. If they approved this operation, I believe that there wasn’t an iota of political motivation involved.”
Yadlin acknowledged that he has been contacted by numerous political figures who offered him a spot on their party lists for the upcoming parliamentary elections, including the joint Labor-Hatnua movement, but that, for now, he is content to remain the head of a think tank.