Yossi Yehoshua|Published: 02.13.19 , 23:29
While Hamas attempts to incrementally turn up the heat in the riots among Israel’s Gaza border, the “Palestinian night squads” have resumed their evening protests along the security fence, disrupting the Israel Defense Forces’ routine activity. But Israel had better pay attention to the emerging reality on its Syria border in the Golan Heights where Hezbollah has been attempting to tighten its grip exactly as it did four years ago.
According to Syrian reports, IDF tanks on Monday evening fired artillery rounds at “a demolished hospital” in Syria’s southern Quneitra province near the border with Israel, causing material damage. It was also reported that Israel hit a military observation post in the border village of Jabta Elhashab. Some reports say the post belonged to “local activists,” but it more likely belonged to Hezbollah, which is trying to regain its hold in the Syrian Golan Heights.
While the IDF maintained a policy of ambiguity over Monday’s strike, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did confirm that Israel had attacked Iranian targets in Syria, just he assumed responsibility for previous attacks over the few past weeks.
Hezbollah is trying to entrench itself in Syria, after Syrian President Bashar Assad has reclaimed the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, precisely as it did between 2014-2015. This was when one of the terror organization’s more prominent members, Jihad Mughniyeh, was appointed by Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force to be in charge of the Golan Heights area and planning terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
But Jihad was killed in a 2015 airstrike attributed to Israel. His father, Hezbollah military and intelligence chief Imad Mughniyeh, was who also killed in an alleged Israeli operation in 2008.
In retribution for Jihad’s death, Hezbollah staged an ambush of an IDF convoy near the Har Dov area, in close proximity to the Lebanese border, firing Kornet anti-tank missiles at the passing troops. The strike was followed by mortar fire coming in from Lebanon onto Mount Hermon after the IDF responded to the attack. Giva’ati Company Commander Major Yohai Kalangel and Sergeant Dor Nini were killed and seven others were injured in the incident.
Hezbollah has recently announced it intends to release footage of that incident, which is considered the gravest since the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
The IDF has yet to comment on the terrorist group’s announcement, however, the army has confirmed Hezbollah’s attempts to base itself across Syrian villages over the past few months, operating against Israel in an area that is not bound by UN resolutions, unlike the Israel-Lebanon border.
In addition, an increase in the number of incidents along the Syrian border was noted over the past two months, with the Israeli strikes in Syria for which no one assumed responsibility meant to signal the enemy that it is best not cross any red lines. This is similar to the message Jerusalem conveyed to Iran when it attempted to entrench itself in Syria and was pushed out of there after a series of Israeli airstrikes.
Unlike the situation of four years ago, Iran has a rare presence along the Syrian border, while Hezbollah is working to resume its confrontations with Israel. But since the organization is up to its neck in domestic problems and cannot allow itself to face Israel on the Lebanese front, it finds Syria to be a more comfortable staging ground from which to take on the Jewish state.
Israel must therefore act with the same determination it demonstrated in 2015, which ultimately ruined Hezbollah’s plans.