Iran is determined to open up a terrorist front against Israel by strengthening Hezbollah’s fortifications on the Golan Heights, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned on Thursday.
“The dozens or so attacks perpetrated from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights against us, it was Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces trying to open a terror front against us,” Ya’alon said at a policy forum hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Hezbollah is now armed with more than 100,000 rockets, he added. Palestinian terrorist organizations based in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have also benefited from their relationship with Iran by “getting knowhow how to produce rockets, more accurate rockets, or even unmanned air vehicles,” he continued.
Israel has demonstrated its determination to prevent Iran from rooting its own forces or proxies in the Golan. In January 2015, an airstrike attributed to Israel killed Iranian and Hezbollah commanders who were attempting to establish terrorist infrastructure on the Syrian side of the Golan. Four months later, the Israeli Air Force struck a weapons shipment convoy on the Syria-Lebanon border. And last December, Samir Kuntar, a Hezbollah-affiliated terrorist who was imprisoned for decades for murdering an Israeli father and his four-year-old daughter in 1979, was killed after reportedly working to build up Hezbollah’s infrastructure and attack capacity on the Golan.
“We have a red line, a boundary that we will not allow to be broken,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized when visiting Moscow in June. “Iran will not be allowed, using Hezbollah, to use Syrian territory to attack us and open up another terrorist front against us in the Golan.”
Hezbollah relies on territory controlled by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to be used as a land bridge to transport weapons and troops between Lebanon and Iran. Because of the importance of this route, Iran and its terrorist proxy have become highly invested in Assad’s survival. Around 1,500 Hezbollah fighters have been killed in the Syrian civil war. Israeli analyst Daniel Nisman told The Financial Times in January that if the Assad regime were to take decisive control of the Syrian Golan from rebel groups, “that could be Iran’s way to put in a second front and a second Gaza or a second southern Lebanon.”
[Photo: Washington Institute for Near East Policy ]