German firms in line with U.S. Iran sanctions 

Posted August 19, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: German firms in line with U.S. Iran sanctions – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions.

BY REUTERS
 AUGUST 19, 2018 06:53
Euro (illustrative)

BERLIN – German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are ending projects in Iran after Washington imposed new sanctions against Tehran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.

New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions, including oil major Total as well as carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler.

State-owned Deutsche Bahn is involved in two projects in Iran via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.

“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”

Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 for the first project, which aimed to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization, she said.

The second project, which started around 1-1/2 years ago, was a consulting contract for Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company, the spokeswoman added.

Separately, Detecon, a subsidiary of T-Systems – Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm – has terminated its business in Iran, a spokesman said. Detecon offers consulting services to companies in the telecommunications industry.

“Until the decision to stop operations was made, sales in Iran in 2018 amounted to around 300,000 euros,” he said.

“Given the sensitivity in relations with Iran worldwide, Detecon ended its business in Iran with immediate effect in mid-May 2018.”

The ending of Telekom’s involvement in Iran followed soon after the announcement that its US unit, T-Mobile, would buy Sprint Corp in a $26 billion deal that remains subject to the approval of US regulators.

Iran says will unveil new fighter jet, continue developing missiles

Posted August 19, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iran says will unveil new fighter jet, continue developing missiles | The Times of Israel

Tehran’s defense minister claims aircraft, believed to be the Qaher F-313, will fly over Iranian skies as part of National Defense Industry Day celebrations next week

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, center, listens to an unidentified pilot during a ceremony to unveil Iran’s newest fighter jet, the Qaher-313, in Tehran, Iran, February 2, 2013 (AP/Mehr News Agency/Younes Khani)

Iran’s defense minister said Saturday that the Islamic Republic is set to unveil a new fighter jet next week and, despite new US sanctions, will continue developing its missile program.

“Our top priority has been development of our missile program. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it,” Brigadier General Amir Hatami was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency, according to Reuters.

“We will present a plane on National Defense Industry Day, and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” he added, referring to the August 22 celebrations.

Hatami is believed to have been referring to the Qaher F-313 fighter plane which Tehran said it had began testing last year.

The Qaher is one of several aircraft designs the Iranian military has rolled out since 2007. Tehran has repeatedly claimed to have developed advanced military technologies in recent years, but its claims cannot be independently verified because the country does not release technical details of its arsenals.

In 2013, then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that building the Qaher F-313, or “Dominant” F-313, shows Iran’s will to “conquer scientific peaks.”

Hatami’s announcement came after Iran’s navy on Saturday unveiled its first-ever advanced defense system for its warships, amid rising tensions with the US in the Strait of Hormuz.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi told reporters in Tehran the domestically made Kamand system would protect Iran’s naval destroyers against anti-ship cruise missiles.

In remarks carried by the semi-official Tasnim news agency, Khanzadi said the Kamand system was based on the American-made Phalanx CIWS, and could destroy any target up to 2 kilometers away.

For the time being, Khanzadi said, the defense system would only be installed on Iranian warships “that carry out missions in deep and distant waters.”

The announcement came two weeks after Iran launched naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz as a show of force while Washington prepared to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

Navy Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi speaks at a Tehran press conference on July 31, 2019. (screen capture: YouTube/PressTV)

Iran routinely operates small boats in the Strait of Hormuz and the surrounding area, and has often threatened to shut down the vital waterway where one third of all oil traded by sea passes.

In recent weeks, President Hassan Rouhani renewed the threat, saying that if US sanctions threatened Iran’s crude oil exports, the rest of the Mideast’s exports would be threatened as well.

Earlier in August, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard confirmed that it had carried out a naval exercise in the Gulf, days before the US re-imposed the economic sanctions that were eased under the 2015-Obama era nuclear deal.

The general overseeing US military operations in the Middle East said Tehran was trying “to use that exercise to send a message to us that as we approach the period of the sanctions here that they had some capabilities.”

The capabilities include ocean mines, explosive boats, coastal defense missiles and radars, US Central Command head General Joseph Votel said.

In May, the US announced it was abandoning the 2015 agreement and reimposing nuclear-related sanctions, threatening global companies with heavy penalties if they continue to operate in Iran.

In a bid to salvage the accord, the EU and European parties to the deal — Britain, France, and Germany — presented a series of economic “guarantees” to Iran last month, but they were deemed “insufficient” by Tehran.

In this photo released by official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani attends a meeting with a group of foreign ministry officials in Tehran, Iran. Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

The sanctions that went into effect earlier in August target US dollar financial transactions, Iran’s automotive sector, and the purchase of commercial planes and metals, including gold. Even stronger sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be re-imposed in early November.

US President Donald Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive deal” but Iran has balked at negotiating under the pressure of sanctions and has instead leaned on its increasingly close ties with fellow US sanctions targets Turkey and Russia.

Agencies contributed to this report.

Hedging Bets: Turkey Courts Europe Amid Row With U.S. 

Posted August 18, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Hedging Bets: Turkey Courts Europe Amid Row With U.S. – International news – Jerusalem Post

Turkish officials say they want to engage the EU and Erdogan held a phone called with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week and met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

BY KRISTINA JOVANOVSKI/ THE MEDIA LINE
 AUGUST 18, 2018 16:25
Hedging Bets: Turkey Courts Europe Amid Row With U.S.

As Turkey retaliates against the United States in their ongoing dispute over the detention of an American pastor, Ankara is mending ties with the European Union in an attempt to limit the damage to its economy, analysts told The Media Line.

Turkey’s currency recovered slightly after the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan released various high-profile prisoners; this, after the lira plummeted to a new low last week when President Donald Trump increased tariffs on the import of Turkish aluminum and steel.

The head of Amnesty International’s Turkey branch, who was behind bars for over 14 months, was released on Wednesday. A day before, two Greek soldiers, who were detained in March after crossing into Turkish territory, were sent back to Greece.

Turkish officials say they want to engage the EU and Erdogan held a phone called with German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week and was to set to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday.

“I think that Turkey is so integrated into the global economic system that it has realized it cannot afford to have bad ties with both the United States and Europe,” Soner Cagaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute, explained to The Media Line.

Cagaptay, author of The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey, said the release of the Greek soldiers was especially notable because Turkey, which has had rocky relations with Athens, would not have unilaterally made the one-sided move unless Erdogan felt it was crucial.

Indeed, the stakes are high for Turkey, as the country’s economic problems extend well beyond the current crisis with the US

The lira had already plunged over 20 percent this year before Erdogan was re-elected in June.

Last month, the central bank increased its 2018 estimated inflation rate from 8.4% to 13.4%.

The currency rebounded following the prisoners’ release, and following an announcement by Qatar, a strong Turkish ally, that it will invest $15 billion in Turkey’s economy.

The lira’s free-fall was likewise stemmed by the implementation by Turkey’s central bank of policies that make it more difficult to borrow money. Experts are concerned that the country’s economy is overheated and that businesses will have a harder time paying back massive debts.

The currency strengthened by over three percent against the dollar on Thursday before Turkey’s finance minister was set to hold a conference call with investors. However, it was still down 34 percent in 2018.

Turkey’s image abroad is especially crucial because much of its growth has been fueled by foreign credit. That makes its decreasing currency even more problematic because businesses will have to spend more in liras to pay back debts that were given in dollars or euros.

But while relations with the E.U. are improving, there are no signs so far that Turkey or the US are willing to back down.

Despite the release of the Greek soldiers and the Amnesty International chair, a court ruled on Wednesday to extend US pastor Andrew Brunson’s from house arrest.

On the same day, Turkey announced it would be increasing tariffs on some US imports.

Erdogan has also called for a boycott of US electronic products like iPhones.

The Turkish leader’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, wrote on Twitter, “We are fending off this economic coup attempt with the wisdom of the Turkish nation and the leadership of our president.”

The White House has said there could be more economic measures against Turkey if Brunson is not released. Brunson, who has lived in Turkey for over twenty years and led a small church in the southwestern coastal town of Izmir, was jailed for nearly two years following the failed 2016 coup. He is accused of having links to a group that Ankara says was behind the coup. The US says the charges are without merit.

On Wednesday, US Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Turkey would do well not to test [President Trump’s] resolve to see Americans who are wrongfully imprisoned in foreign lands returned home to the United States.”

Can Selcuki, an analyst with Istanbul Economics Research and former World Bank economist, believes that Erdogan could be forced to change course if the economic instability increases but, for now, has shown a clear unwillingness to make concessions to the US

“Despite the lira depreciation, he’s not backing down,” Selcuki told The Media Line. “I don’t know what the breaking point is.”

Elmira Bayrasli, who teaches international affairs with a focus on Turkey at Bard College, said that Erdogan is improving relations with Europe to increase confidence in the Turkish market.

She explained to The Media Line that Turkey’s economic growth under Erdogan was partly predicated on the fact that investors viewed him as a stabilizing force.

“The more he can show that he’s very interested in having relationships and he is the leader who can restore that stability, the better it’s going to be,” she concluded, By retaliating against the US, Bayrasli said that Turkey will give the perception that its cutting itself off from the largest economy in the world, which will be bad for Turkey’s financial markets and growing businesses.

However, it is not just Turkey that has something to lose in this crisis. The country is a vital NATO ally, bordering Syria and Iraq.

It makes Turkey both more susceptible to instability, as well as a geopolitically valuable.

The US used a military base in southeastern Turkey to launch air strikes against ISIS.

“I think the United States has a vastly huge interest in the stability and prosperity of Turkey,” Bayrasli said.

“Both sides need to climb down from their blustery rhetoric.”

Iranian-Backed ‘Sleeper Cell’ Militants Hibernating in U.S., Positioned for Attack

Posted August 18, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iranian-Backed ‘Sleeper Cell’ Militants Hibernating in U.S., Positioned for Attack

Iranian militants poised to attack U.S. homeland

Members of Hezbollah

Members of Hezbollah / Getty Images

BY: 

Iranian-backed militants are operating across the United States mostly unfettered, raising concerns in Congress and among regional experts that these “sleeper cell” agents are poised to launch a large-scale attack on the American homeland, according to testimony before lawmakers.

Iranian agents tied to the terror group Hezbollah have already been discovered in the United States plotting attacks, giving rise to fears that Tehran could order a strike inside America should tensions between the Trump administration and Islamic Republic reach a boiling point.

Intelligence officials and former White House officials confirmed to Congress on Tuesday that such an attack is not only plausible, but relatively easy for Iran to carry out at a time when the Trump administration is considering abandoning the landmark nuclear deal and reapplying sanctions on Tehran.

There is mounting evidence that Iran poses “a direct threat to the homeland,” according to Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee and chair of its subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence.

A chief concern is “Iranian support for Hezbollah, which is active in the Middle East, Latin America, and here in the U.S., where Hezbollah operatives have been arrested for activities conducted in our own country,” King said, referring the recent arrest of two individuals plotting terror attacks in New York City and Michigan.

“Both individuals received significant weapons training from Hezbollah,” King said. “It is clear Hezbollah has the will and capability.”

After more than a decade of receiving intelligence briefs, King said he has concluded that “Hezbollah is probably the most experienced and professional terrorist organization in the world,” even more so than ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Asked if Iran could use Hezbollah to conduct strikes on the United States, a panel of experts including intelligence officials and former White House insiders responded in the affirmative.

“They are as good or better at explosive devices than ISIS, they are better at assassinations and developing assassination cells,” said Michael Pregent, a former intelligence officer who worked to counter Iranian influence in the region. “They’re better at targeting, better at looking at things,” and they can outsource attacks to Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is smart,” Pregent said. “They’re very good at keeping their communications secure, keeping their operational security secure, and, again, from a high profile attack perspective, they’d be good at improvised explosive devices.”

Others testifying before Congress agreed with this assessment.

“The answer is absolutely. We do face a threat,” said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has long tracked Iran’s militant efforts. “Their networks are present in the Untied States.”

Iran is believed to have an auxiliary fighting force or around 200,000 militants spread across the Middle East, according to Nader Uskowi, a onetime policy adviser to U.S. Central Command and current visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

At least 50 to 60 thousand of these militants are “battle tested” in Syria and elsewhere.

“It doesn’t take many of them to penetrate this country and be a major threat,” Uskowi said. “They can pose a major threat to our homeland.”

While Iran is currently more motivated to use its proxies such as Hezbollah regionally for attacks against Israel or U.S. forces, “those sleeper cells” positioned in the United States could be used to orchestrate an attack, according to Brian Katulis, a former member of the White House National Security Council under President Bill Clinton.

“The potential is there, but the movement’s center of focus is in the region,” said Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Among the most pressing threats to the U.S. homeland is Hezbollah’s deep penetration throughout Latin America, where it finances its terror activities by teaming up with drug cartels and crime syndicates.

“Iran’s proxy terror networks in Latin America are run by Tehran’s wholly owned Lebanese franchise Hezbollah,” according to Ottolenghi. “These networks are equal part crime and terror” and have the ability to provide funding and logistics to militant fighters.

“Their presence in Latin America must be viewed as a forward operating base against America’s interest in the region and the homeland itself,” he said.

These Hezbollah operatives exploit loopholes in the U.S. immigration system to enter America under the guise of legitimate business.

Operatives working for Hezbollah and Iran use the United States “as a staging ground for trade-based and real estate-based money laundering.” They “come in through the front door with a legitimate passport and a credible business cover story,” Ottolenghi said.

The matter is further complicated by Iran’s presence in Syria, where it has established not only operating bases, but also weapons factories that have fueled Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s war on Israel.

Iran’s development of advanced ballistic missile and rocket technology—which has continued virtually unimpeded since the nuclear deal was enacted—has benefitted terror groups such as Hezbollah.

“Iran is increasing Hezbollah’s capability to target Israel with more advanced and precision guided rockets and missiles,” according to Pregent. “These missiles are being developed in Syria under the protection of Syrian and Russian air defense networks.”

In Iraq, Iranian forces “have access to U.S. funds and equipment in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and Iraq’s Ministry of Interior,” Pregent said.

The Trump administration has offered tough talk on Iran, but failed to take adequate action to dismantle its terror networks across the Middle East, as well as in Latin American and the United States itself, according to CAP’s Katulis.

“The Trump administration has talked a good game and has had strong rhetoric, but I would categorize its approach vis-à-vis Iran as one of passive appeasement,” said Katulis. “We simply have not shown up in a meaningful way.”

Report: One killed, 100 wounded, in Gaza border clashes 

Posted August 17, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Report: One killed, 100 wounded, in Gaza border clashes – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Palestinian reports say protestors have gathered along the border fence and are rioting and burning tires.

BY JERUSALEM POST STAFF
 AUGUST 17, 2018 16:55
Report: One killed, 100 wounded, in Gaza border clashes

Palestinian reports say protestors have gathered along the border fence and are rioting and burning tires.

In addition, KKL firefighters are working on putting out two fires caused by incendiary balloons launched from the coastal enclave, both in the Be’eri forest in southern Israel.

On Thursday, it appeared that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had met with Egypt’s intelligence minister to discuss possible terms for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

According to one source, the proposed ceasefire would include a year-long period of calm which could potentially be elongated to four years. The possible return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of IDF soldiers held by Hamas would be discussed in negotiations throughout the year.

Following three days of relative calm along the border, Israel reopened Gaza’s Kerem Shalom border crossing on Wednesday morning to allow for the passage of economic goods into the Strip.

Despite the attempts to broker a ceasefire, Hamas-affiliated sources stated Friday that its people would continue to engage in weekly “Great March of Return” protests along the border – demonstrations and oft-violent riots that have been happening every Friday since March 30.

Thousands protest near Gaza border amid reports of imminent truce

Posted August 17, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Thousands protest near Gaza border amid reports of imminent truce | The Times of Israel

At least 7 said injured in violent clashes with Israeli troops; defense officials say day’s events will be test of Hamas’s intent and ability to ensure calm

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers in defensive positions on an embankment near the Gaza border during a violent Palestinian protest, July 27, 2018 (Courtesy IDF)

Illustrative: Israeli soldiers in defensive positions on an embankment near the Gaza border during a violent Palestinian protest, July 27, 2018 (Courtesy IDF)

Despite talk of an imminent truce in the Gaza Strip, thousands of Palestinian protesters once again gathered near the territory’s border with Israel Friday for the weekly Hamas-backed ‘March of Return’ demonstrations, with some rioters attacking Israeli soldiers along the fence.

Palestinian media reported at least 7 people wounded by IDF fire.

Meanwhile an incendiary balloon launched from the Strip sparked a fire near Kibbutz Be’eri. Firefighters were at the scene.

Gazan protesters gathered at several points along the border with Israel and some had launched balloons carrying pictures of so-called “martyrs” who had been killed by Israel.

Sources in the Defense Ministry said the events of the day would be a test of Hamas’s willingness or ability to enforce calm as part of a deal.

An unconfirmed Lebanese television report Thursday said the truce was set to last for a year and see the establishment of a cargo shipping connectionbetween Gaza and Cyprus.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said he would remain in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv to receive constant updates about what was happening along the border.

A female Palestinian protester holds a slingshot during a demonstration at the Israel-Gaza border, east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on August 10, 2018. (AFP/Said Khatib)The army stressed that its preparations ahead of Friday’s demonstrations has been no different than in the previous four months.

Over the past four months the “March of Return” protests have led to deadly clashes which saw Israeli security forces facing gunfire, grenades, Molotov cocktails, and efforts — sometimes successful — to damage or cross the border fence.

At least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the weekly protests began, a Hamas ministry says. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of those killed were its members.

One Israeli soldier was shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

In addition to the border clashes, southern Israel has experienced hundreds of fires as a result of incendiary kites and balloons flown over the border from Gaza. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

IDFs war plans for facing Hezbollah

Posted August 17, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: IDFs war plans for facing Hezbollah

The IDF understands that Hezbollah has gained masses of experience in the civil war. Now it is undergoing changes to prepare it for the next showdown with ‘the strongest army in the Middle East after the IDF.’
Yoav Zitun|Published:  08.17.18 , 10:49
For the very first time, the IDF’s ground forces are implementing a four-dimensional ‘combined battle’ strategy in preparation for a possible war with Hezbollah.

Over the past few days, the IDF has been carrying out the most extensive training exercises conducted by the 36th Armored Division, including the 7th Armored Brigade.

The “Gideon” battlgroup—a combat brigade that includes thousands of IDF soldiers—is training in the Golan Heights for a possible conformation with the modern Hezbollah terror group. Militarily, the Labenon-based group is an army in every sense. It is advanced, fast, mobile and combative.

IDF prepares for an armed conflict with Hezbollah (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF prepares for an armed conflict with Hezbollah (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Hassan Nasrallah’s organization, bruised and bleeding from the Syrian civil war in which thousands of Hezbollah fighters were killed and wounded, is slowly returning to Lebanon. Hezbollah also faces internal problems as well as a reduction in the annual Iranian support budget.

Nevertheless, the organization has a high operational self-confidence and has gained rich experience from four years of fighting.

Hezbollah now has new military capabilities, such as the ability to maneuver forces into enemy territory, drafting large forces in rapid speed, and more.

The organization, recently described by a senior officer in the Northern Command as “the strongest army in the Middle East after the IDF,” has received a new arsenal of weapons: special and high-quality night vision devices, electronic combat weapons, and hundreds of drones and UAVs, along with mortars carrying half a ton of explosives, and heavy rockets.

Meanwhile, IDF ground forces are undergoing a major facelift that will be implemented in the coming years by additional standing army brigades, under the guidance of the four-dimensional ‘combined battle’ strategy.

The IDF will practice fighting in the underground, cyber warfare, and prepare for shooting from rooftops or from high-rise building windows.

IDF training in the north (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

IDF training in the north (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

In addition, the Gideon battlegroup will implement an invisible network on the battlefield that includes 24 intelligence planes that can detect anything that emits a signal. Once a signal is detected and decoded, an exact location is found, and the “smart trigger” system turns it into a target in a matter of seconds or minutes.

During training in the Golan Heights, the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion fighters fired the first precision-guided mortar shell that has flight control capabilities and a five meter magin of error accuracy.

Next year a similar conversion of artillery shells is expected. “Our goal is to convert 50 percent of the land-based ammunition stockpiles into precise weaponry,” said a senior official from the ground forces.

Following incidents such as the Kfar Giladi disaster in the Second Lebanon War, and the fighting in Shuja’iyya in Operation Protective Edge, each ground maneuver unit will be provided with an air defense battery to combat heavy mortar and suicide bombers threats, similar to the old antiaircraft batteries that protected IDF ground maneuver forces in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

 (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

(Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The battleground will include dozens of aircraft—the air force’s rescue and evacuation helicopters, logistic drones, observation drones, and more.

“Each air maneuver unit in the air force will have a small airport with an air control team that will manage everything that happens up to 1,000 feet,” a source in ground forces explained.

The ground forces, together with the air force, will cover the aerial territory above 1,000 feet, while the area above 3,000 feet would be covered by the air force alone.

In one of the drills performed by the IDF, a helicopter landed without the inference of drones and UAVs. In fact, recent events in Gaza helped with this type of training.

According to a senior officer in the ground forces, “this is not a fantasy, we are looking ahead… each division will have its own communications and logistical capabilities.”

A revolution on the ground will also change the engineering capabilities of the brigades: an engineering battalion will include a special unit for handling enemy tunnels.

The elite Yahalom unit will join each battalion and will cover difficult targets and situations such as penetrating bunkers. In addition, within a year, the IDF will be able to receive real-time intelligence from intelligence corps.

 (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

(Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

“We are training the forces against the most updated and relevant enemy,” said a senior officer in the ground forces.

“We set up a special battalion that includes about 400 fighters, and deployed them throughout the Golan Heights in order to simulate the capabilities Hezbollah has today,” the officer added.