On Tuesday night, Israel appears to have struck a military base on Tel al-Hara, a mountain overlooking the Golan Heights that is the highest point in the area. Ron Ben-Yishai explains:
For decades, Tel al-Hara has served as an intelligence base for the Syrian army, as well as for Iran and Russia, whose forces operate there with Syria’s permission. . . . In late 2018, the Syrian army—with Russian assistance—took control of the area [from al-Qaeda-linked rebels], including Tel al-Hara. According to an Israeli agreement with the Russians, only the Syrian army is allowed to remain in the region, while Hizballah, Iran, and the other Shiite militias operating on its behalf were to be pushed back at least 80 kilometers east of the Damascus-Daraa road, which runs close to Tel al-Hara.
The agreement was honored initially, and only the Syrian army used the mountain. . . . It is however fair to assume that [now] Hizballah, the Iranians, and their proxies in Tel al-Hara intend to use it to gather intelligence for a variety of purposes: to facilitate future infiltrations into Israeli territory and attacks on civilian and military targets; to aim missiles, rockets, and artillery; to monitor IDF and IAF activity as well as deployments that could indicate whether Israel is planning an operation that may disrupt Iranian and Hizballah plans. . . .
Israel had announced several times that it would not allow the consolidation of an Iranian-led radical Shiite front in Syria. The attack may also have served to remind the Russians to ensure that the mediated understandings it has reached with Israel, the U.S., and Jordan are to be honored. If not, Israel would have to take care of the problem itself. Russian military police units are stationed on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, who could easily ascertain the facts on the ground at Tel al-Hara.