Iran threatens retaliation for Israeli strike on Hezb'allah
Iran was caught with its pants down over the weekend when an Israeli missile barrage took out a convoy near the Golan Heights in Syria, carring 6 Iranian agents, including a Revolutionary Guard general, and 5 members of the terrorist group Hezb'allah.
The Iranians threatened retaliation "in due time and place," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was quoted as saying.
What were six Iranian nationals doing in Syria?
The Israeli strike came just days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that the terror group was preparing for a war in Israel’s northern Galilee region.
It also occurred just a week after Iranian military leaders announced that they are operating missile sites in Syria, which potentially include a nuclear facility.
Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders were likely planning a sophisticated invasion of Israel’s northern border in the weeks before they were killed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend, according to Major General Eyal Ben Reuven, the former deputy head of the Israeli Defense Forces Northern Command.
The accuracy of Israel’s strike and the high-level nature of those Iranian and Hezbollah commanders killed indicates planning for a militant incursion into Israel’s northern region, according to Reuven, who said the airstrike shows a “very high level of intelligence” on Israel’s part.
The high-level nature of the Iranian and Hezbollah operatives targeted by Israel suggests that an attack on Israel was imminent, according to Reuven, who handled top intelligence in the region during his time serving in the IDF.
“If the highest level of Hezbollah commanders were in the Golan Heights and the high level of Iranians, it means that their idea, [what] they’re planning could be a kind of operation, an act against Israel on a high level,” Reuven said during a conference call Monday organized by the Israel Project (TIP). “It’s significant, the high level of this meeting, of this reconnaissance of the Iranians and Hezbollah.”
“It says something about what they plan, what kind of operation they planned,” he added. “If Israel has intelligence that says there is a kind of operation on the way to act against Israel, I think Israel would have a legitimate [reason] to do all we can to prevent it.”
The strike that killed these 11 militants was “very, very professional,” according to Reuven, and would require “very, very high level intelligence” and “very accurate” targeting information.
Iran quickly confirmed that one of its top commanders had been killed in the strike, according to Farsi language reports.
A military operation on the Israeli border could have been a carbon copy of Hezb'allah's snatch-and-grab of 2 IDF soldiers in 2006 that precipitated the war with Hezb'allah. Both soldiers died, and Hezb'allah exchanged their bodies for 4 terrorist prisoners.
In truth, Hezb'allah could not mount a significant invasion of Israel. Any action would be more like a raid on isolated outposts or vulnerable military vehicles. What's significant is that the presence of such a high-ranking Rev. Guard general meeting with the terrorists in Syria means the personal involvement of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Revolutionary Guard generals don't go traipsing off to Syria without permission of the top man.
Hezb'allah is in political trouble in Lebanon thanks to its fighting on the side of Bashar Assad. One possible reason for planning an incursion to kill or kidnap Israeli soldiers is for the terrorists to regain some of the popularity they've lost because of their backing Assad. The recent kerfuffle over the Miss Universe selfies involving Miss Lebanon and Miss Israel shows just how unpopular Israel is in Lebanon. Poking the IDF in the eye would be very popular indeed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is pretending that the meeting of Iranian agents and Hezb'allah in Syria is a perfectly normal occurence and no reason to cancel nuclear talks. It makes you wonder what Iran has to do to upset our diplomats and the administration enough that they'd reconsider giving Iran what Iran wants.