Tension on Israel’s northern border continued yesterday following an air strike in Syria on Sunday, which killed senior Hezbollah commanders and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.
Although Israel’s military has made no official comment about Sunday’s operation, it is thought to have been an Israeli strike. Israeli media reports say that those targeted were planning to strike Israel with rocket attacks, cross-border infiltrations, border bombings and anti-tank fire. Hezbollah confirmed that among those killed were a commander known as Abu Issa and a district commander, Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of the late Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh, a notorious terror operative. Iran admitted that General Mohammad Allahdadi of the Revolutionary Guards was also among the dead.
Iranian leaders yesterday escalated their rhetoric, threatening Israel with a violent reaction. Brigadier General Hossein Salami, the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Guards said Israel “should be waiting for crushing responses.” He claimed that Sunday’s raid was evidence that Israel is “worried” and vowed that “they will witness destructive thunderbolts in practice.”
Meanwhile, tension continued in Israel’s north and on Wednesday evening local residents in a handful of border communities were instructed to stay indoors amid suspicions of an infiltration, which proved unfounded. The IDF yesterday began to send extra forces to the north of the country. Haaretz says that infantry, artillery and tanks were deployed in case of military repercussions to the Syria raid.
Meanwhile, Brig Gen Shahar Shochet of the Israel Air Force (IAF) visited an Iron Dome battery repositioned to the north as a precaution and commented, “We are continuing to increase our capabilities and sharpen our senses … should there be developments.” Earlier this week, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz cancelled a trip to Brussels to attend a NATO conference, in order to remain at home and oversee IDF preparations for any potential escalation.
Lebanese media reports said that IAF helicopters had been flying low over southern Lebanon and that additional aircraft had launched decoy balloons emitting a trail of white smoke.