What happened: Last night the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) thwarted an attempt by an unknown cell to place improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the border between Syria and Israel.
- According to the IDF Spokesperson’s Office, “IDF troops on the southern Golan Heights, adjacent to an IDF post, spotted a terror squad placing explosive devices adjacent to the security fence. IDF troops and an IDF aircraft fired simultaneously towards the squad of four terrorists, a hit was identified. No IDF injuries were reported.”
- “The Northern Command maintains elevated readiness for various scenarios. The IDF holds the Syrian regime responsible for all events on Syrian soil and will not tolerate any violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
- In a separate incident last night a rocket was fired from the Gaza strip towards Israel. The Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted the rocket. There were no injuries but several vehicles were damaged in Sderot as result of falling shrapnel from the interception.
- In response, IDF fighter jets targeted Hamas structures in the Gaza Strip, including a concrete manufacturing site used for underground tunnels and military subterranean facilities.
Context: The IDF has been on high alert for the last two weeks since the death of a Hezbollah operative in a missile attack in Syria was ascribed to Israel.
- Last Monday a Hezbollah cell attempted to infiltrate into Israel from Lebanon. They were monitored on camera by IDF observers and when they crossed into Israeli territory, troops fired at the ground close to them, but deliberately did not hit them. The cell then fled back to Lebanese territory.
- The killing of the four operatives last night highlights a strikingly different operational calculation between how the IDF responds to incidents on the Syrian and Lebanese borders. Unlike last week’s incident, the IDF immediately released footage of their strike last night.
- Last night’s encounter occurred at the same spot where until two years ago, Israel had operated a field hospital to treat Syrians who had been wounded in the Syrian civil war.
- The rocket from Gaza came shortly after a change in command of the Gaza Division. Outgoing Brig. Gen. Eliezer Toledano said at his leaving ceremony: “During my tenure as commander of the Gaza Division, the leaders of the terrorist organisations, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, pursued a strategy of intimidation and panic, firing rockets and mortar shells aimed at Israeli citizens … Hamas does not care about the children of the Gaza Strip. They must stop digging tunnels like wild animals and invest the concrete in building infrastructure for the homeless. They must stop manufacturing rockets and use pipes to build proper water and sewage infrastructure for their children. They must stop sowing launchers and harvest rockets and sow wheat and harvest grain.”
- The rocket fire from Gaza was the first in almost a month.
Looking ahead: It is not yet clear who is responsible for planting the IEDs on the Syrian-Israeli border last night and if the event was an isolated incident or was intended to be part of Hezbollah’s revenge attack. The IDF Spokesperson confirmed: “We will continue to be on alert for many more days. We have a lot of patience.”