Israel Moves Against ISIS, Prepares for Border Conflicts
By Sarah Ann Haves
Israeli Air Force jet fighters struck Syrian targets on November 27 following the first attack inside Israeli territory by ISIS-linked terrorists on the Golan Heights. Early Sunday morning, militant gunmen fired small arms and mortar shells at IDF forces on the Heights and the IDF returned fire. Four of the terrorists were killed. It was the first direct clash that Israel has had with ISIS cells, and has been seen as a worrisome escalation of enemy forces against Israeli sovereign territory.
As residents and farmers evacuated the area near the border during the incident, Nitzan Nuriel, head of Israel’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau, spoke to journalists on a conference call with the foreign media. He gave a short backgrounder on Israel’s policy since the Second Lebanon War of 2006. Nuriel explained that the moment the Lebanon War started, Israeli forces took action in what Israel calls, the gray area.
According to Nuriel, “It is a special area of the border between us and our neighbors.”
Nuriel went on to say that while the fence along the border is monitored, in the beginning of the Lebanon War Hezbollah used the gray area to kidnap Israeli soldiers. Nuriel stated that Israel will take action based on intelligence in order to avoid giving any terrorists an option of kidnapping IDF forces now or in the future.
“The enemy will not be able to build-up infrastructure to attack Israeli soldiers.”
In the incident on November 27th, Nuriel told reporters that it was probably a field commander who directed the action against Israel, not some directive from ISIS operatives.
“I believe the decision to open fire against the soldiers was a local decision.”
Claiming that the IDF’s response was a strong retaliation against the enemy in order to send a clear message that Israel will not tolerate a cross-border incident, Nuriel stated: “You cannot open fire against us. If you do, you will pay the price.”
Nuriel assured journalists that if ISIS really wanted to open a front against Israel, they would announce it with much fanfare. He then warned ISIS not to try Israel’s patience.
The attack on Sunday did not appear to be a cooperative effort between Syrian President Bashir Assad’s forces and jihadi forces operating out of Syria.
Nuriel’s concern, however, was that Hezbollah could try and use a future chaotic situation like this one to act against the IDF in the north. According to Nuriel, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, could mistakenly assume that Russia would back him up if he struck Israel. Nuriel warned that would be a huge miscalculation on Nasrallah’s part.
The rush by Israel’s military to speak to the foreign media was a clear indication that the IDF wanted to send a formidable threat to any terrorist group that dared to wage war against the Jewish State. This being the first clash between Israel and ISIS-linked terrorist cells, Israel’s air force hit back hard, destroying the terrorists in their vehicle, using a precise air force missile.
|…Israel has a
“zero tolerance” policy
for cross-border incidents.
Apparently, over the past few days, there have been other attempts by Israel’s enemies to attack the IDF on the northern border. On November 28th, another incident happened against the Israeli Golani Reconnaissance Battalion operating along the Syrian border. The IDF responded with strong force attacking an ISIS-linked terror cell located in the south of the Syrian Golan Heights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman made statements on Monday, warning ISIS and other terrorist groups operating inside Syria that Israel has a “zero tolerance” policy.
It is now unclear if these are two isolated incidents or a new ISIS-directed policy to disrupt Israeli life on the Golan Heights.
Meanwhile, Defense News reports that Israel is preparing its borders with Syria and Lebanon for what could be a full assault in the future by Syrian militant forces or Hezbollah and its allies. (It is possible that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards could be involved). Israel has created extreme terrain and man-made cliffs on its northern border so that enemy forces will have a difficult time trying to invade Israel’s military bases or civilian areas.
The Israeli government’s homeland security plans are to evacuate thousands of citizens in Israel’s northern communities and use their homes to fight enemy forces. Part of the defense operations Israel is currently working on have to do with securing above and below ground surveillance capabilities; the use of early warning systems; and the deployment of rapid-reaction and response forces that can effectively respond to threats against Israeli sovereignty.
Israel has set up command and control networks along its borders, including high concrete walls and 16 foot-high fences. Reportedly, Israel is securing at least 360-400 miles of its borders along the Syrian, Lebanese, Egyptian, and Jordanian fronts. Along Israel’s border with Egypt in the Sinai, Israel has deployed 130 miles of border re-enforcements to keep ISIS and other terrorist groups from operating against the Jewish State. Israel’s company, Elbit, working alongside other companies, is providing an advanced multi-sensor command and control network for the IDF to guard the Egyptian border with high-level surveillance equipment.
Israel’s greatest vulnerability to its sovereignty remains underground in the form of enemy tunnels. The lack of preparedness to confront Hamas militants operating underground during the 2014 Gaza War was a wake-up call to the IDF and the Israeli government. Gaza terrorists used tunnels to invade Israeli territory. Responding to fearful citizens, the IDF paid a heavy price in destroying 32 of the tunnels. Dozens of Israeli soldiers lost their lives in Gaza ground operations.
Since that war, Israel has invested millions of dollars researching and preparing for operations in the subterranean environment. U.S. Pentagon officials have been helping Israel with counter-tunnel technologies, meeting twice a year to chart their progress in extended cooperation. In the research and development tunnel projects, the U.S. and Israeli teams detect, map, and plan operations underneath the ground.
As Israel faces the possibility of confronting Hezbollah and Shiite militants, and radical Islamic Sunni forces, along its northern and southern borders, the IDF is preparing for several possible scenarios. Israel has contingency plans not only for its soldiers, but also for its civilians in what is now becoming an increasingly unpredictable and volatile situation that threatens the Jewish homeland and its citizens.
2 Samuel 22:3-4: “My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge. My shield and the horn of my salvation. My stronghold and my refuge. My Savior. You save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.”
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Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ms. Haves is a news analyst, reporting on political, diplomatic, military and spiritual issues in Israel and the nations.