Iran Has Set Up Shop in Israel’s Backyard

In the summer of 2018, Bashar al-Assad’s forces seized the Syrian portion of the Golan Heights from rebel forces after several years of fighting. Jerusalem had hoped, writes Alex Fishman, that this development would at least bring some stability to the area. Instead, the threat to Israel from Iran has increased, and stability is nowhere in evidence:

Syrian media [last] week reported that Israeli aircraft had dropped leaflets on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, warning local residents and members of the Syrian Army’s 1st Corps stationed there that anyone who assists the Hizballah terror organization in acts of aggression towards Israel would be targeted by the IDF. . . . The leaflets were dropped a day after another Syrian news report that the IDF fired an anti-tank rocket at a target [in the area] and hit Hizballah and other pro-Iranian fighters.

[Meanwhile], the fighting continues. Pro-Assad forces, anti-Assad fighters, pro-Iran Hizballah proxies, and others are all fighting each other. Dozens of fighters are killed each month and occasional crossfire even crosses the border into Israel. . . . There is no normal civilian life on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights today. There are only fighters battling for territory and influence; some Syrian civilians are paid as little as $30 by Iran and Hizballah to attempt attacks on Israel.

The Iranians have been increasing their efforts to entrench themselves within the Syrian military [with the aim of] executing what it calls the “Golan file”—an effort to build a network of terror cells along the Israeli border on the plateau. The plan also includes establishing branches of Hizballah’s southern command to lay the groundwork for a second front against Israel, [in addition to the Israeli-Lebanese border], in a future war.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Golan Heights, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Syria


Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria