Israel learned from Hezbollah's defeat at the hands of Turkey

Dozens of operatives from the elite unit died while fighting against Turkey in Syria's Idlib, the IDF says they watched and learnt from the battle.

Turkish and Russian soldiers wearing face masks are pictured during a joint patrol in the northern Idlib province, Syria, April 15, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Turkish and Russian soldiers wearing face masks are pictured during a joint patrol in the northern Idlib province, Syria, April 15, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel watched the fighting between Hezbollah’s Radwan unit and Turkish forces in Syria’s Idlib province very closely, learning that the elite unit found it difficult to stand up to a conventional army.
In early February, Turkey’s military deployed tanks, armored vehicles, artillery and troops to Idlib to stop a Syrian regime offensive to retake the country’s last opposition stronghold, which was backed by hundreds of Hezbollah troops as well as Shi’ite militias supported by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
While Hezbollah has lost thousands of fighters since the Lebanese terror group entered the fighting on the side of Syrian regime President Bashar Assad, the Turkish operation in Idlib – which is roughly half the size of neighboring Lebanon – caused losses not seen in years.
The losses included countless operatives belonging to Hezbollah’s elite Radwan unit.
Israel’s military was able to identify several Radwan operatives killed during the fighting with Turkey by patches worn by the fighters.
The unit, named after Hezbollah’s military commander Imad Mughniyeh aka al-Hajj Radwan, who was killed in Damascus in 2008 in an operation attributed to Israel, was established to carry out covert operations against Israel.
While operatives from the unit were fighting in Syria for several years, gaining extensive operational experience, most have returned to southern Lebanon.
Radwan operatives are expected to be at the forefront of any Hezbollah attack against Israel, infiltrating into Israeli communities accompanied by a massive barrage of rockets, mortars, anti-tank missiles and more.
Though Hezbollah has redeployed troops back to the border between Lebanon and Israel, the IDF does not believe a preemptive strike against Radwan forces would be the right move at the moment.
Israel has been working to strengthen its northern border for several years, but due to financial restraints has only completed 14 km. of a concrete barrier along the Lebanese border. The remainder of the boundary with Lebanon is a fence that was originally built in the 1980s, and while sections of it have been upgraded several times, it is said to be in poor condition.
The fence provides the military with indications of breaches, which allows troops to quickly get to the scene, but senior officers have admitted that it would not stop infiltrations by Radwan operatives.
Due to the threat of infiltrations by Hezbollah, dozens of communities along the border with Lebanon are expected to be evacuated should a war break out.
The IDF, which claims that every third house in southern Lebanon is used for military purposes by the group, would focus on destroying the villages along the border to prevent additional Radwan operatives and weaponry to be used against Israel.
Nevertheless, while Israel does not believe Hezbollah plans to provoke a war with Israel in the near future, the IDF is concerned that any major event that threatens the regime in Tehran, such as a miscalculation by Washington against Iran in the Persian Gulf or in Iraq, might lead Hezbollah to attack Israel.