Soleimani increased Iranian threats to Israel before death

What follows are some selections of operations and threats that Qasem Soleimani was involved in.

Qasem Soleimani in Syrian desert (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Qasem Soleimani in Syrian desert
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani increased Iran’s efforts to strike at Israel in the last year. In August, he oversaw the movement of “killer drones” near the Golan Heights, including a thwarted attempt to use them.
Israel says that he funded, coached and trained Shi’ite operatives who were supposed to carry out the drone attack on August 22. An airstrike killed two Hezbollah operatives who were working with the drones on August 24. Soleimani oversaw the dispatch of Quds Force members to Syria to train the group involved in the drones, and Iran sent experts to Syria to oversee the operation.
Soleimani was outspoken on August 26 when he said that these were the “last struggles” Iran would have with Israel. It was part of rising Iranian rhetoric threatening Israel with destruction. The head of the IRGC Hossein Salami said in September that destroying Israel was no longer just a dream.
Soleimani said that “these insane operations are absolutely the last struggles of the Zionist regime.” On August 28, in the wake of those comments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had warned Soleimani and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah to “be careful.”
It is worth looking at some other recent incidents in tensions between Soleimani and Israel. Israel’s Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center and other studies have extensively documented Soleimani’s background. What follows are some selections of operations and threats that Soleimani was involved in.
Soleimani became head of the Quds Force in 1998. The group had already been behind helping Hezbollah in attacking the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992. Soleimani built up relations with Hezbollah and sent IRGC agents to aid the fight against Israel until the 2000 withdrawal. Iran had a “huge presence” according to former US officials.
Soleimani was a key part of Iran’s support for Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel. He aided the group in planning the 2006 attack on IDF soldiers at the Lebanese border that led to the 34-day war. He arranged Iranian support and weapons transfers to Iran that arrived through Syria and other countries in the region. In 2009, Israel interdicted a ship carrying 3,000 rockets destined for Hezbollah. They were the same types of 107mm. rockets that Soleimani would arrange for transport to Kataib Hezbollah in Iraq to attack the US. In 2010, the New Yorker says that he also worked with Hezbollah to strike at the US and Israel, even in attacks in Thailand, New Delhi, Lagos and Nairobi. In January 2015, according to a study at the Combating Terrorism Center, Soleimani was seen at a memorial for Jihad Mughniyah, the son of his former friend Imad who was assassinated.
In February 2016, Soleimani met with a Hamas delegation in Tehran. “The world has changed since the Arab spring,” he said. “Neither Iran nor Hamas is as it was before.” He supported an uprising among Palestinians and confronting Israel. Soleimani said that the Iran Deal had not changed Iran’s militant stance, it would continue to “support Palestine.”
In December 2017 Soleimani said that Iran was ready to support Palestinian groups in Gaza. It was already supporting Islamic Jihad and Hamas, but he indicated it could up its support. Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Arouri met with Iranians in July 2019.
In January 2018, the US reportedly gave Israel a “green light” to kill Soleimani according to the Kuwaiti paper Al-Jarida. According to Al-Jarida, Israel had sought to assassinate Soleimani three years before in 2014-2015 but the US “warned the Iranian leadership of the plan.” A similar report by Marzieh Kouhi-Essfahani in a book on Iranian policy claimed in 2014 that the Obama administration pressured Israel not to target Soleimani.
The IRGC  Quds Force commander was also behind a rocket salvo of dozens of rockets fired at Israel from Syria in May 2018. Israel said at the time that “it was ordered and commandeered by Qasem Soleimani and it has not achieved its purposes.” The salvo came as the Syrian regime was retaking areas in southern Syria and amid tensions over the US leaving the Iran deal. The US had also decided to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. The Arab Weekly reported that Israel had blamed Soleimani, and that he was now in the “crosshairs” of the US and Israel.
Soleimani visited southern Syria and allegedly spent time there to build up Iran’s networks near Israel’s border in January 2019. Kuwait’s Al-Jarida reported the visit. He briefed the Supreme National Security Council when he returned to Iran, and discussed Israel and Syria and Russia.
In late September, Soleimani gave a long interview in Iran discussing the role of the IRGC in supporting Hezbollah and working with Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyeh during the 2006 war with Israel. He noted that he had been in Lebanon at the time and that he believed Iran no longer faced the obstacles today it faced back then to supply its Lebanese ally. In September, he was also seen with Iran’s Supreme Leader next to Iraq’s Muqtada al-Sadr.
An article by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies noted in November that Israel was on high alert due to the “increased activities of the Iranian Quds Force.” Tensions had grown on October 28 due to Soleimani’s threats. In addition, this came just prior to Israel’s Operation Black Belt against Islamic Jihad in Gaza, a group that is sponsored by Iran. On October 1, Soleimani had said the road was paved to destroy Israel and other Iranian regime enemies such as the US. “The barriers are no longer effective against the IRGC’s might. According to Israel Hayom, an Iranian official also said on October 4 that “Tehran had foiled a plot by Israeli and Arab intelligence agencies to assassinate Soleimani.” The complex plot, which Hossein Taeb of the IRGC claimed to reveal, involved planting explosives next to a religious ceremony Soleimani was to attend.
On December 23, Iran said that airstrikes had targeted its positions in Syria including IRGC Quds Force aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander close to Soleimani. Soleimani was considered to have gained strength in the last year, overseeing more operations. He may have been at his peak of power when he was killed.