Israel Braces for Retaliation After Airstrike in Syria Kills Iranian Commander
Israel is bracing for potential attacks from Hezbollah, after an airstrike in the Syrian Golan killed 11 members of the Hezbollah-Iranian axis on Sunday. The dead include Jihad Mughniyeh, a son of former Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyeh; Iranian General Mohamed Allahdadi; and Mohammed Issa, the leader of Hezbollah’s operations in Syria and Iraq.
In response, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, warned of “destructive” retaliatory actions against Israel, and called for the destruction of the Jewish State.
“The Zionists should await annihilating thunderbolts,” Jafari told Iranian media.
While on high alert in the north, Israel deployed several Iron Dome anti-missile systems on the border in case Hezbollah decides to launch rockets into Israel.
Despite Israeli silence on the matter, former Shin Bet head Yaakov Peri referred to the strike as an “intelligence and operational success.”
Peri, a member of the Knesset, alluded to Hezbollah’s terrorist activities and preparations close to the mountainous Syrian border with Israel.
“In my analysis this was meant to facilitate a series of terrorist attacks inside Israeli territory,” Peri told Israel’s Army radio. He also suggested that Israel was aware of the identities of the people killed.
Another Israeli source suggests that Israel intended to target low-ranking militants in Syria and not an Iranian general.
“We did not expect the outcome in terms of the stature of those killed – certainly not the Iranian general,” the source told Reuters.
It is unlikely that the terrorist organization seeks to escalate the violence into a major confrontation with Israel. However, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s threats in recent months and provocative activities on the Lebanese border indicate that some type of response from Hezbollah is likely. Potential retaliatory responses include a minor attack on Israeli patrols, a large-scale terrorist operation targeting Israeli civilians, or even terrorist attacks against Israelis abroad.
Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.