Northern Israel was on high alert Tuesday night for potential fallout from an air strike that killed senior Hezbollah and Iranian officials on Sunday, as Iran warned Israel to expect “ruinous thunderbolts.”In light of the security evaluation, the IDF shut a section of road along the Lebanese border between Avivim and Dovev to all but local farmers.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman held a special session of a trimmed down security cabinet Tuesday. The two-hour meeting reportedly was devoted to discussing the developments in the North. No statement was released afterward.The security cabinet includes Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Liberman, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Interior Minister Gilad Erdan and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.Earlier, a Reuters report claimed that an Iranian general killed in an Israeli air strike in Syria was not its intended target and that Israel believed it was attacking only low-ranking terrorists, a senior security source said on Tuesday.Following the Reuters report, an Israeli security official said, “The State of Israel is not relating to the incident in Syria and not to reports about it, reports that do not come from authorized sources.Israeli policy has been and remains aimed at thwarting every attempted terror attack against it.”Jihad Mughniyeh, son of former Hezbollah chief Imad Mughniyeh, as well as 11 others, were killed in the airborne attack, including six Iranians, one of them Revolutionary Guard Gen. Muhammad Allahdadi. Another key figure killed in the attack was identified as Muhammad Issa, the head of Hezbollah’s operation in war-torn Syria and Iraq. Western intelligence sources said this week that Mughniyeh was plotting a series of deadly cross-border terrorist attacks from Syria against Israel, describing him as a “relentless terrorist” who enjoyed direct Iranian backing.“We did not expect the outcome in terms of the stature of those killed – certainly not the Iranian general,” Reuters quoted the Israeli source as saying. “We thought we were hitting an enemy field unit that was on its way to carry out an attack on us at the frontier fence. We got the alert, we spotted the vehicle, identified it was an enemy vehicle and took the shot. We saw this as a limited tactical operation.”Hezbollah said six of its members died in the strike.Tehran has vowed to hit back.“These martyrdoms proved the need to stick with jihad.The Zionists must await ruinous thunderbolts,” Revolutionary Guard chief Gen.Muhammad Ali Jafari was quoted on Tuesday as saying by Fars news agency. “The Revolutionary Guard will fight to the end of the Zionist regime... We will not rest easy until this epitome of vice is totally deleted from the region’s geopolitics.” Asked whether Israel expects Iranian or Hezbollah retaliation for the air strike, the Israeli source said: “They are almost certain to respond.We are anticipating that, but I think it’s a fair assumption that a major escalation is not in the interest of either side.”The IDF and civilians in northern Israel are on heightened alert and Israel has deployed a number of Iron Dome air defense batteries to the area.Earlier, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said Israel was not only behind Sunday’s air strike in Syria, but also was responsible for “all acts of terrorism” in the Middle East.Israel has not confirmed that it carried out the strike, but Netanyahu has said Israel would not give up its right to defend itself against all those who wish to propagate terror and other attacks against its citizens or its territory.Also on Tuesday, a Lebanese MP said during a radio interview that “Syria and Hezbollah are working on establishing a resistant society in the Golan Heights.”According to Lebanon’s Daily Star, the MP, Walid Sukkarieh went on to say that the goal was to prevent Israel from normalizing relations with locals in the mountainous border region, adding that doing so is “a great responsibility for the axis of resistance.”Former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yaakov Peri described the strike as an “intelligence and operational success.”Speaking in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, the now Yesh Atid MK suggested that Hezbollah’s presence so close to the mountainous border with Israel was a preparatory measure.“In my analysis, this was meant to facilitate a series of terrorist attacks inside Israeli territory,” Peri said, adding that he suspects the identities of those killed in the strike were not necessarily a mystery to the involved intelligence actors prior to the mission.“There is no doubt that when an operation like this rises to levels of national significance all the consequences must be checked and weighed,” Peri said, adding that such conspiratorial thinking does not play into his understanding of the motives behind the Sunday operation. “I believe there is no political connection.”Though he lauded the tactical circumstances of the strike, Peri also stated that there is an emotional element for Hezbollah in losing such high-ranking figures and that the consequences of such a powerful blow must be weighed by the security establishment and not taken lightly.Commenting on the prime minister’s remarks, Peri claimed that, while he diverges on diplomatic decisions, when it comes to strategic decisions he trusts Netanyahu.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
Footage of Hezbollah convoy reportedly hit by Israeli air strike released