Just hours after Israeli Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot paid a visit to Israel’s northern border with Syria, IDF forces in the Golan Heights have been placed on high alert over the possibility of a Hezbollah attack in revenge for the assassination of senior terrorist commander Samir Kuntar last week.
In light of intelligence assessments gauging that the likelihood of such an attack is high, forces along the border have raised their alert levels, clarified military procedures and enacted several changes to defense installations including the border fence itself.
At the same time, IDF forces are also undertaking more covert efforts to prevent such an attack, as well as sending a clear signal to potential attackers that any response will be severe.
The Chief of Staff visited the border along with several other senior army figures, including the head of the IDF’s Northern Command, Major General Aviv Kochavi; Commander of the Bashan Division, Brigadier General Yaniv Asor; and Galilee Division Commander Brigadier General Amir Baram.
During his visit Eizenkot stopped at several strategic lookouts to view from up close the ongoing clashes between Syrian rebel and regime forces.
According to IDF estimates some 95% of the Syrian Golan is held by rebel groups. That reality has made the border region a new target of Russian airstrikes, with the closest so far to Israel’s border taking place against rebel positions over the past few weeks.
But more worryingly, among the targets struck more recently by Russia were three Islamic State (ISIS) jihadist positions, indicating the group is slowly encroaching on Israel’s northern border.
The IDF has warned that ISIS jihadists along that same front could stage attacks in the not-so-distant future, and has enacted a variety of intelligence and security measures in the area to prepare for such an eventuality.
Defense officials warn that ISIS possesses no small number of advanced weapons, including Russian-made advanced Kornet anti-tank missiles and other heavy weaponry, much of it seized from regime forces.
The Al-Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which is affiliated with ISIS, also has a presence in the area, sources added.