Kochavi visits North, says IDF ready for any possible attack

Chief of staff’s visit comes as Iran vows revenge after top nuclear scientist assassinated.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi visits Israel's northern border with Syria. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi visits Israel's northern border with Syria.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
“Our message is clear,” he said two days after Iran’s top nuclear scientist was assassinated near Tehran. “We will continue to act as vigorously as necessary against Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and we are fully prepared for any sort of aggression against us.”
Kochavi spoke during a visit to the Bashan Brigade, where he held a situational assessment with OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Amir Baram, OC Bashan Brigade Brig.-Gen. Roman Goffman and other senior officers.
During the visit, Kochavi spoke with commanders and soldiers about troop readiness regarding various scenarios that could arise from the Syrian front. The IDF has not raised its alert level, but there was an awareness of possible developments in the area, he said.
Iran has blamed Israel for the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh east of Tehran on Friday and has warned that it will retaliate.
The Islamic Republic would give a “calculated and decisive response,” a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, and a hard-line newspaper suggested Tehran’s revenge should include striking Haifa.
“Undoubtedly, Iran will give a calculated and decisive answer to the criminals who took martyr Mohsen Fakhrizadeh from the Iranian nation,” said Kamal Kharrazi, head of Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations.
The hard-line Kayhan daily, whose editor-in-chief is appointed by Khamenei, called for an attack on Haifa if Israel’s involvement in Fakhrizadeh’s killing is proven.
“The attack should be carried out in such a way that in addition to destroying the facilities, it should also cause heavy human casualties,” Saadollah Zarei wrote.
Israel has repeatedly warned about Iran’s nuclear program and its aspirations of regional hegemony and has admitted to carrying out hundreds of airstrikes as part of its “war between wars” (known in Hebrew as MABAM) campaign to prevent the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the entrenchment of its forces in Syria, where they could easily act against Israel.
“I came here to emphasize the security situation, emphasizing the Iranian establishment in Syria, and to thank everyone who was involved in the precise and successful operation of uncovering the improvised explosive devices 10 days ago near the border,” Kochavi said during his visit on Sunday, referring to the discovery of anti-personnel mines that had been placed along the border by an Iranian terrorist cell.
The terrorist cell behind the placing of the mines and other improvised explosive devices on the Golan Heights was Unit 840, which is operated by the Iranian Quds Force, the IDF said.
In response to the explosive devices, Israel carried out a wave of strikes that hit eight targets from the Golan Heights to Damascus in which several military personnel were killed.
Although Israel usually refrains from targeting terrorist operatives to try to avoid subsequent retaliation, some strikes ascribed to the Jewish state have killed several Iranian fighters and Hezbollah operatives in southern Syria on the Golan Heights, where the group has been trying to establish a permanent military presence.
Reuters contributed to this report.