Analysis: A warning to Tehran

Israel's quick response to recent Syria rockets show attack was no surprise for IDF Intelligence.

 IDF tank exercise in the Golan Heights, near the cease-fire line between Israel and Syria  (photo credit: REUTERS)
IDF tank exercise in the Golan Heights, near the cease-fire line between Israel and Syria
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The swift Israeli reaction on Thursday and Friday to the launching of four rockets from Syria at the Galilee and Golan shows how deep is the Israeli intelligence penetration of Iran’s military. It was not the first time that precise and updated intelligence data enabled Israel to prevent terrorist attacks from Syria sponsored by Iran, or to execute attacks against Bashar Assad’s regime, or whatever is left of it.
The rocket launchings – which caused no casualties or damage to property, except sparking fires in open fields – didn’t surprise IDF Intelligence.
They were expecting some sort of an attack against Israel from the Syrian Golan and prepared themselves for the eventuality.
Israel’s response was gradual but fierce. First, Syrian Army positions were attacked with artillery and missiles. Later, a senior Israeli officer revealed sensitive intelligence information by naming a senior Iranian officer and holding him responsible for ordering the rocket attacks. He is Saad Ezadi, in charge of the Israeli desk in the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The military source also said that, although the rockets were fired by members of the pro-Iranian Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, those who ordered it were the commanders of the Quds Force.
Revealing the name of such an important operative is unusual and is aimed at signaling to the Iranians that we know a great deal about them, so they had better watch out.
It was also good intelligence work that enabled the Israel Air Force on Friday to strike the car carrying four or five Islamic Jihad operatives who took part in firing the rockets the night before, hitting them some 15 kilometers inside Syria.
The Quds Force, led by the charismatic Maj.-Gen. Qassen Sulimanie, one of the most influential officials in Iran, already has a forward command post on the Syria side of the Golan. Its goal is to recruit local agents and terrorists who in return for cash would be ready to carry out terrorist attacks against Israel.
They include local Druse loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Palestinians, Syrians and infiltrators sent by Hezbollah from Lebanon.
The Iranian decision of when and how to operate is motivated mainly by the availability and accessibility of terrorists. However, the most important consideration for the Iranians is not to leave their fingerprints behind.
It is not clear what motivates the Iranians to use their proxies to create tension along the already fragile and tense Israeli-Syrian border.
This question is crucial at this most sensitive time when Tehran waits for the US Congress to approve the nuclear deal and pave the way for lifting the sanctions, which is clearly Iran’s ultimate goal.
Tehran is also well aware of the arguments used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in opposing to the deal.
Netanyahu claims that the flood of money from ending the sanction regime will be funneled to further finance terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.
So why does Iran appear to be playing at this sensitive time into the hands of its arch enemy, Netanyahu? Senior Israeli military and security officials have no convincing answer. Some argue that Iran is using its proxies to avenge the killing of an Iranian general a few months ago by an alleged Israeli air strike on the Syrian side of the Golan border.
Others say Iran will never miss an opportunity to shed Israeli blood, as long as it doesn’t leave a trace behind.
In this cold but heated war, Israel’s latest response was aimed at warning Iran: You have enough troubles defending your crippled client in Damascus, so don’t mess with us.