(August 3, 2020 / JNS) For the second time in less than a week, the border alertness of the Israel Defense Forces border has proven itself, allowing the military to stay one step ahead of the Hezbollah-Iran axis and its dangerous quest for retaliation.
The attempt on Sunday night by an armed squad to plant explosive devices on the Israeli-Syrian border was thwarted by the IDF—this time with lethal firepower. Although the IDF has said it cannot confirm a link between the armed squad and Hezbollah or Iran at this stage, it does not require any classified intelligence information to assume that the Hezbollah-Iran axis dispatched the squad on its ill-fated mission—six days after an armed Hezbollah squad was sent retreating back into Lebanon after approaching an IDF position on the Israeli-Lebanese border.
Hezbollah has not given up on its attempt to revenge the killing of its operative last month in an alleged Israeli airstrike in Syria. The Iranian-backed Shi’ite terror army has failed to seize on Israel’s offer to de-escalate last week, leading to Sunday’s incident.
Last week, Hezbollah was presented with an opportunity by Israel to stand down since the IDF deliberately missed the squad it sent to fire on Israeli positions.
Sunday’s incident illustrates that Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and his Iranian backers are determined to attack, although they are seeking to enforce their “retaliation equation” without sparking a war. This time, it seems that they tried to do it from Syria.
According to IDF international spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, the IDF has been on elevated alert on the Golan Heights at the Syrian border, as well as along the Lebanese border, for a week in anticipation of such attacks.
The squad from Syria approached an old IDF position near the Tel Fares region of the southern Golan, which is sometimes staffed by military forces, and crossed the border into Israel. It was in this same location that the IDF ran a field hospital, active until 2018, to care for injured Syrian civilians caught up in their country’s civil war.
‘Our troops are on the ground scanning the area’
The IDF spotted irregular activities at nights throughout last week at this same location, said Conricus, leading it to deploy the Maglan commando unit to the area.
The Maglan unit, which specializes in directing firepower at targets, held consecutive ambushes, said Conricus, and it was ready to engage when an IDF field intelligence team, using cameras on the border, spotted the squad for the first time at approximately 8 p.m. The IDF patiently waited until it received a second, clearer confirmation of the squad’s presence at 11 p.m., indicating “that there were four suspects, some armed, and what we saw them do was plant IEDs on the ground close to the fence, inside Israeli territory, west of the Alpha line,” he reported.
The attackers did not cross the eight-meter, steel reinforced border fence (which is within Israeli territory), but began planting their explosives next to it. As they proceeded to retreat, the IDF fired on them from multiple directions—from the ground, using small arms and sniper fire, and from the air, resulting in a direct hit, according to Conricus. “Our estimate is that all four of the squad members were killed,” he said.
The IDF relied on the same capability to deal with both incidents—the ability to detect and provide the early alert of approaching enemy terror cells. Once again, the ability to monitor northern borders continuously and provide real-time alerts to threats gave the IDF its tactical edge.
The bigger question is where the situation will head from here. Conricus said on Monday that the IDF does not consider the event over, adding that “our troops on the ground scanning the area as we speak.”
The IDF must assume, as it did last week, that Nasrallah and his Iranian backers will not give up with such “results” from his perspective.
Said Conricus: “We’re deployed and on elevated readiness. We’re patient. And we’re very committed to continuing to defend our civilians against any type of attack.”
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