Archive for the ‘Israeli security’ category

London terror – a lesson from Israel

March 23, 2017

London terror – a lesson from Israel, Israel National News, Jack Engelhard, March 23, 2017

So yesterday violent Islam won again, this time in London, from where the UK’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, only a few weeks ago, warned Israel that it must absolutely abide by a two-state solution – must split itself in half to make happy Hamas, Abbas, the PA, the PLO and the rest of them that seek Israel’s destruction – along with the rest of Western civilization.

Does nothing get learned?

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A terrorist rams his car into a crowd. Then he steps out and starts knifing civilians.

That was Wednesday in London, but in Israel it can be any day of the week.

So the terrorist attack at Westminster outside Parliament, which killed four, would surprise no Israeli, particularly as to this pattern of terrorism. In Israel it’s been going on for years…deadly car rammings and indiscriminate knifings as a method to strike fear into the heart of an entire population.

Now the entire world knows how it feels, but it all begins in Israel, where Islamic terrorists try out new tactics to see how the rest of the world will respond. I call it spring training for Radical Islam. If the response is full support for Israel, we win, they lose.

But if the world says the terrorists had an excuse…if the world says Israel must give up more land to pacify Muslim extremists…we lose, they win.

So yesterday violent Islam won again, this time in London, from where the UK’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, only a few weeks ago, warned Israel that it must absolutely abide by a two-state solution – must split itself in half to make happy Hamas, Abbas, the PA, the PLO and the rest of them that seek Israel’s destruction – along with the rest of Western civilization.

Does nothing get learned?

The brave talk fools nobody, not the Islamic hot heads first of all. “We remain defiant,” said one Member of Parliament over at the BBC.

Defiant, how? You keep bringing more of them in.

Basic math says the more terrorists you bring in, the more you are bound to suffer the consequences.

Granted, they are not all terrorists, but so inclined from specific countries. Our President, Donald Trump, keeps trying to keep them out.

So far he has not been entirely successful because of certain judges who tolerate anything, including rape, in the name of Tolerance.

In the name of Inclusiveness they give in to terror, and so, an hour after the attack, another Member of Parliament told the BBC:

“We will never give in to terror.”

Have you tried getting on a plane lately – without being near strip-searched? Every big city has quadrupled its police force and its intelligence gathering operations. Walls have gone up all over Europe – and we are building a wall. Check points everywhere. Constant alerts – if you see something, say something.

What is that? That is giving in to terror, and it’s happening all over, and electing a Muslim as London’s mayor stopped nothing.

Over the months, Mayor Sadiq Khan has called Trump’s proposed travel pause offensive and “ridiculous.”

Now what’s he say?

Kahn also said that every big city around the world ought to be ready and to expect terror attacks.

No, Sir, we never expected any such business until we shut our eyes and flung our doors and borders wide open.

Fatah Official: We Should Launch Popular Resistance Against Israel Because What Unites Us Is The Struggle Against It, Not Dialogue With It

March 22, 2017

Fatah Official: We Should Launch Popular Resistance Against Israel Because What Unites Us Is The Struggle Against It, Not Dialogue With It, MEMRI, March 22, 2017

In a March 21, 2017 article in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, Fatah Central Committee member ‘Abbas Zaki wrote that nothing has changed since the 1967 defeat. Therefore, he said, Fatah must mobilize its tens of thousands of members and launch a popular resistance campaign against Israel, which all the other Palestinian factions will then join. He claimed that Fatah already did this in the past, after 1967, when its resistance operations “restored the Arab nation’s hope and realized the Palestinian legitimacy,” because “the sword is ever aimed [at the enemy] and the rifle comes before the olive branch.” He called on the Palestinian officials to continue pursuing Israel in international courts and to put the good of the homeland before their personal interests, as the “generation of pioneers” did.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

‘Abbas Zaki (image: Al-Quds, Jerusalem)

“How similar our current time is to yesteryear. In the June 1967 [war] we suffered defeat, and the [West] Bank, Sinai, and the Golan fell into Israeli hands. The leader of the [Arab] ummah, [Gamal] ‘Abd Al-Nasser, [felt] compelled to resign from his position and become a private citizen, [but] the public came out and stopped him from doing this. He had a high measure of national honor and people like him do not accept defeat, in accordance with his eternal slogan: What was taken by force cannot be restored by anything other than force, and therefore he decided on a war of attrition [against Israel].

“At the time, a message was sent to Fatah in Damascus that read: Oh, boys of Fatah, mobilize and fight, even by starting fires. If you don’t do this, Arab banners will never be raised [in these lands]. The leader of our path and the commander of our revolution, Yasser Arafat, took the hint and left for the occupied lands immediately – crossing the Syria-Jordan border and reaching the [Jordan] valley. The [deputy] commander of [Fatah’s] Al-‘Asifa unit, Abu Sabri Saidam, also followed suit. From there they crossed the Jordan River to the place their hearts yearned for – to Palestine, which is suffering the wound of the occupation and the disappointments of defeat…

“Fatah restored the nation’s hope and realized the Palestinian legitimacy by [creating] the PLO framework and with other achievements that cannot be downplayed. Despite the ups and downs, the sword remains aimed [at the enemy] and the rifle comes before the olive branch, while [Fatah] is showing the entire world that the Palestinian people are heroes who will never surrender or bend; that the smallest geographic region [can] occupy the world’s decision-makers; and that the Palestinian issue is the strongest card in the equation of Middle East conflicts…

“[We] require the awakening and practical action of tens of thousands of Fatah activists, [who must] join the civil popular resistance against the settlers and occupation forces, and their number will double once they are joined by national and Islamic parties and organizations, and by the entire public of our mighty people. For what unites the Palestinians is the struggle rather than the dialogue [with Israel], [a dialogue] which has already lost its effectiveness on all tracks. If the sweeping [masses] block the bypass roads [leading to the Israeli settlements in the West bank], Israel and the settlers will not remain [in the West Bank] because their presence there is motivated by their freedom [of movement] and an absence of resistance to their presence there as imperialists who occupy our Palestinian land.

“The government and the [PLO] Executive Committee need to pursue Israel in international courts for its ongoing crimes, presenting everything related to these issues: the settlements; the prisoners; the destruction of the foundations of Palestinian life; the crimes of arson, murder and demolition of homes, and the denial of our people’s freedom. [All this in order] to place Israel on the list [of countries that practice] apartheid, as the report of the [UN’s] Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA] stated – and we cherish the role played by [the commission’s former head,] Rima Khalaf, in this – and in order to place Jerusalem… at the top of the priority list of Palestinian missions on the economic level, and support the steadfast position and all needs of life in a manner befitting [Jerusalem’s] status as the eternal capital of Palestine and its spiritual status in the world.

“In order to belong to the generation of pioneers at this difficult phase, we must be loyal to the oath of devoting our time, money, and spirit to the homeland… and make sure that those who are concerned with the Palestinian cause will win out over those who seek privileges at the expense of the homeland… [All this] in order to fulfill our national dream of return and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and our people’s right to self-determination. Each of us should ask himself what proof he can give that we are following in the footsteps of the great ones in order to rally our public – which is water and life, and the recipient of future rights. Long live the memory, the glory of the martyrs, and the freedom for prisoners.”

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[1] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 21, 2017.

World Shrugs as Hizballah Prepares Massive Civilian Deaths

March 21, 2017

World Shrugs as Hizballah Prepares Massive Civilian Deaths, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Noah Beck, March 21, 2017

Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel’s military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.

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Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned Israel that his Iran-backed terror group could attack targets producing mass Israeli casualties, including a huge ammonia storage tank in Haifa, and a nuclear reactor in Dimona.

Also last month, Tower Magazine reported that, since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, Iran provided Hizballah with a vast supply of “game-changing,” state-of-the art weapons, despite Israel’s occasional airstrikes against weapons convoys.

In a future conflict, Hizballah has the capacity to fire 1,500 rockets into Israel each day, overwhelming Israel’s missile defense systems. Should such a scenario materialize, Israel will be forced to respond with unprecedented firepower to defend its own civilians.

Hizballah’s advanced weapons and the systems needed to launch them reportedly are embedded across a staggering 10,000 locations in the heart of more than 200 civilian towns and villages. The Israeli military has openly warned about this Hizballah war crime and the grave threats it poses to both sides, but that alarm generated almost no attention from the global media, the United Nations, or other international institutions.

Like the terror group Hamas, Hizballah knows that civilian deaths at the hands of Israel are a strategic asset, because they produce diplomatic pressure to limit Israel’s military response. Hizballah reportedly went so far as offering reduced-price housing to Shiite families who allowed the terrorist group to store rocket launchers in their homes.

But if the global media, the UN, human rights organizations, and other international institutions predictably pounce on Israel after it causes civilian casualties, why are they doing nothing to prevent them? Hizballah’s very presence in southern Lebanon is a flagrant violation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, which called for the area to be a zone “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons” other than the Lebanese military and the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The resolution also required Hizballah to be disarmed, but the terror group today has an arsenal that rivals that of most armies. Hizballah possesses an estimated 140,000 missiles and rockets, and reportedly now can manufacture advanced weapons in underground factories that are impervious to aerial attack.

“Israel must stress again and again, before it happens, that these villages [storing Hizballah weapons] have become military posts, and are therefore legitimate targets,” said Yoram Schweitzer, senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS).

Meir Litvak, director of Tel Aviv University’s Alliance Center for Iranian Studies, agrees, adding that global attention would “expose Hizballah’s hypocrisy in its cynical use of civilians as… human shields.”

Even a concerted campaign to showcase Hizballah’s war preparation is unlikely to change things, said Eyal Zisser, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. Hizballah exploits the fact that “the international community is too busy and…weak to do something about it,” Zisser said. All of “these talks and reports have no meaning. See what is happening in Syria.”

Israel has targeted Hizballah-bound weapons caches in Syria twice during the past week. Syria responded last Friday by firing a missile carrying 200 kilograms of explosives, which Israel successfully intercepted.

If Hizballah provokes a war, Israel can legitimately attack civilian areas storing Hizballah arms if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) first attempts to warn the targeted civilians to leave those areas, Litvak said. But “it will certainly be very difficult and will look bad on TV.”

While Sunni Arab states are generally united against the Shiite Iranian-Hizballah axis, Litvak, Zisser, and Schweitzer all agreed that Israel could hope for no more than silent support from them when the missiles fly.

Indeed, the “Sunni Arab street” is likely to be inflamed by the images of civilian death and destruction caused by Israel that international media will inevitably broadcast, further limiting support for Israel from Iran’s Sunni state foes.

Rather perversely, the Lebanese government has embraced the very terrorist organization that could cause hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilian deaths by converting residential areas into war zones. “As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hizballah’s] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them,” President Michel Aoun told Egyptian television last month. Hizballah, he said, “has a complementary role to the Lebanese army.”

Aoun’s declaration means that Lebanon “takes full responsibility for all of Hizballah’s actions, including against Israel, and for their consequences to Lebanon and its entire population, even though the Lebanese government has little ability to actually control the organization’s decisions or policy,” said INSS Senior Research Fellow Assaf Orion.

MK Naftali Bennett, a veteran of Israel’s 2006 war with Hizballah, believes that Lebanon’s official acceptance of Hizballah and its policy of embedding military assets inside residential areas removes any constraints on Israeli targeting of civilian areas. “The Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases – they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out,” he said. “That’s what we should already be saying to them and the world now.”

In a future war, Hizballah is certain to try bombarding Israeli civilian communities with missile barrages. Israel, in response, will have to target missile launchers and weapons caches surrounded by Lebanese civilians.

But it need not be so. Global attention on Hizballah’s abuses by journalists and diplomats could lead to international pressure that ultimately reduces or even prevents civilian deaths.

Those truly concerned about civilians do not have a difficult case to make. Hizballah has shown a callous disregard for innocent life in Syria.

It helped the Syrian regime violently suppress largely peaceful protests that preceded the Syrian civil war in 2011. Last April, Hizballah and Syrian army troops reportedly killed civilians attempting to flee the Sunni-populated town of Madaya, near the Lebanese border. In 2008, its fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods and killed innocent civilians after the Lebanese government moved to shut down Hizballah’s telecommunication network.

Hizballah terrorism has claimed civilian lives for decades, including a 1994 suicide bombing at Argentina’s main Jewish center that killed 85 people . As the IDF notes, “Since 1982, hundreds of innocent civilians have lost their lives and thousands more have been injured thanks to Hizballah.”

If world powers and the international media genuinely care about avoiding civilian casualties, they should be loudly condemning Hizballah’s ongoing efforts – in flagrant violation of a UN resolution – to cause massive civilian death and destruction in Lebanon’s next war with Israel.

Hizballah’s trust in Russia – strategic dilemma for Israel

March 19, 2017

Hizballah’s trust in Russia – strategic dilemma for Israel, DEBKAfile, March 18, 2017

Israel is not planning action against Russian forces in Syria, but if the Russian army, whether deliberately or unintentionally, grants Iran and Hizballaha military protection, as they counted on having at T4, Israel would not hesitate to disabuse them.

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Israel finally took a hand in the swiftly moving events looming from Syria over its northern borders by launching multiple air raids against the key northern Syrian air base known as T4 near Palmyra early Friday night March 17.

Those events are spearheaded by the pro-Iranian Hizballlah’s drive to capture the Golan in line with its war of “resistance” on the Jewish state.  This fixation came into sharp focus the day after the air strike in a rare admission by Hizballah of the loss of a commander. He was named Badee Hamiyeh and was described as having been killed “in the southern Syrian region of Quneitra near the Israeli-held Golan Heights.”  This was the first anyone had heard of any recent battle on the Golan.

A week earlier, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Hertzl Halevi showed President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin maps depicting the various military movements ongoing in Syria, with the accent on an armored convoy of several hundred Hizballah troops driving out of their Syrian stronghold of Zabadani towards Mt. Hermon. The convoy was clearing a path by overrunning some 30 Syrian rebel villages on the Hermon slopes, which command the Syrian Golan town of Quneitra and the Israeli border.

This evidence demonstrated that Hizballah had developed a single military stratagem for threatening Israel-held Hermon, ruling central Golan and gearing up for battle to restore the entire Golan area to Syrian sovereignty under Hizballah control.

Netanyahu had hoped that Putin would agree to stop the Hizballah convoy and keep his promise not to let Iran and Hizballah deploy on the Israeli border. However, the Russian leader was unresponsive. Not only were Russian commanders in Syria not instructed to restrain Hizballah, they acted to persuade Syrian rebels on the Hermon and the Golan to surrender to he Lebanese Shiite invaders.

And indeed, as the Hizballah advance continued. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah contrived an equation to justify his assault on the Golan. “They brought ISIS to the Beqaa [Hizballah’s Lebanese stronghold] and so the ‘resistance’ [Hizballah] went to Syria. They wanted this group to reach Beirut, and so, today, we are in Golan.”

Seeing Hizballah on the move unchecked and gearing up for an expeced showdown with Israel, Netanyahu and the IDF decided to take matters in their own hands. They ordered several air force strikes Friday on the relatively remote strategic T4 air base near Palmyra in northeastern Syria and hit several birds with one stone.

DEBKAfile’s military sources describe T4 as the main terminal for Iranian planes to land day by day and unload  war materials for their own forces as well as the Syrian army and Hizballah.This air base also houses Russian attack helicopters and special operations troops, whose presence there was trusted by Tehran and Nasrallah to be an effective shield against Israeli attack.

The IAF air strike Friday proved them wrong.

These developments were the subtext of the video statement by Netanyahu that was broadcast Friday night by Israeli media: “I can assure you that our resolve is firm, as attested to by our actions,” he said. “This is something that everyone should take into account, everyone!.” When he said, “everyone,” he was not just addressing Tehran and Beirut, but Moscow as well.

Israel is not planning action against Russian forces in Syria, but if the Russian army, whether deliberately or unintentionally, grants Iran and Hizballaha military protection, as they counted on having at T4, Israel would not hesitate to disabuse them.

The Kremlin got the message and, a few hours after the Israeli air strikes, Israeli Ambassador Cary Koren was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry. There was no official protest, but Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov firmly informed the ambassador that Moscow would not tolerate any further Israeli attacks on Syrian bases where Russian forces were present.

In the course of the raid, Israel’s advanced anti-missile Arrow system made its first operational appearance. IDF chiefs feared that the Syrian anti-air missiles fired against the Israeli jets might fall on a populated location inside Israel and so decided it was necessary to intercept any incoming projectiles.

Israel’s military experts got into an argument, which will no doubt go on for years, over whether Arrow’s first appearance in this situation was a good or a bad move. However, the deafening bang that the IDF wonder weapon inflicted on millions of Israeli ears, within a radius of more than a 150 kilometers from the Jordan Valley to the Mediterranean, offered an inkling of how much worse it will be in a full-scale conflict.

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup

March 17, 2017

In-House Hizballah Missile Factories Could Add to Massive Arms Buildup, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, March 17, 2017

This does not mean Hizballah is seeking a conflict with Israel now, but it does mean that should a new war erupt in the future, Israel’s civilian population will face unprecedented threats.

Israel’s defense establishment is making its own preparations accordingly, based on the understanding that this Iranian agent has developed into a full-fledged terrorist army.

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A recent report saying that Iran constructed underground missile factories in Lebanon for Hizballah would, if accurate, indicate a disturbing boost in the Shi’ite terror organization’s ability to self-produce weapons.

Already, the Israeli defense establishment sees Hizballah as a powerful and radical army rather than a ‘mere’ terror organization due to its deep and sophisticated weaponry (which surpasses that of most states), and its hierarchical command structure.

An ability to manufacture destructive rockets and missiles would mean that the militant Islamist Lebanese-Shi’ite organization is no longer entirely reliant on arms trafficking from its patron Iran and ally, the Assad regime in Syria.

The report, made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), was published in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Jarida. It cites an aide to the commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as its source. The IRGC’s Quds Force is an elite unit that runs Iran’s extensive overseas operations to arm, finance, and strengthen Iran’s regional proxies.

According to the Kuwaiti report, the IRGC built the arms-making facilities more than 50 meters underground and fortified them against air strikes before handing control of them over to Hizballah three months ago.

The report is well within the realm of the possible, Ely Karmon, a Hizballah expert and a senior research scholar at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Herzliya told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He pointed to a 2015 statement made by the IRGC’s Aerospace Force commander, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, boasting that Tehran has provided “Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the Lebanese Hizballah resistance group with the needed know-how to produce missiles.”

“The IRGC’s Aerospace Force has developed to a stage in the field of missile industries that it can mass-produce different types of short- and mid-range missiles,” Hajizadeh said.

Assessing the latest Kuwaiti report, Karmon said that it is “possible that these Hizballah military factories are in the Quseyr area in Syria, and not in Lebanon.” Quseyr is an area of western Syria near Lebanon which has come under Hizballah control in recent years after being seized from Sunni rebel organizations.

Israel bombed targets in the area in the past, Karmon noted, likely as part of Israel’s covert program to selectively disrupt of Hizballah’s force build-up.

In November, Hizballah paraded its heavy weaponry in Quseyr – including tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, and missile launchers.

The Kuwaiti report also claimed that “a special department has been established at the IRGC’s Imam Hossein University [in Tehran] to train Lebanese and other experts, and hundreds of experts have already been trained… The manufacture of the missiles does not take place in one factory; different parts are built in different factories and then assembled together.”

The missile factories reportedly can produce surface-to-surface missiles with a range of over 500 kilometers – in other words, capable of hitting anywhere in Israel – surface-to-sea missiles, perhaps intended to hit Israeli ships and Israel’s offshore gas rigs in the Mediterranean Sea, armed drones, anti-tank missiles, and other weapons. The production sites can also be used to make machine guns, mortars, and anti-aircraft guns.

Since the end of the 2006 war with Israel, Hizballah stockpiled an arsenal totaling 120,000 missiles – one of the largest of its kind in the world. The vast majority of these arms were manufactured in Iran and Syria and smuggled into Lebanon. A growing number are guided rockets and missiles, which Hizballah could use to try to use to overcome Israeli air defenses and target sensitive targets.

Iranian weapons transfers continue regardless of whether Hizballah has access to its own missile factories. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provided details on “the ongoing Iranian attempt to transfer weapons, advanced weapons, to Hizballah, via Syria,” when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow earlier this month.

Reports say that Israel targeted such weapons again overnight, triggering Syrian surface-to-air missile fire at Israeli jets. At least one of those missiles reportedly was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow defense system.

Hizballah also is training elite terror cells to infiltrate Israel during the next war, and to temporarily ‘conquer’ northern Israeli communities in a bid to demoralize Israelis.

These preparations, it is safe to assume, are being closely monitored by Israel.

Hizballah’s deep involvement fighting for the Assad regime in Syria for four years also has boosted its power. The best form of training is combat itself, and its operatives have been exposed to Iranian commanders and technology on the battlefields of Syria.

Meanwhile, back in Lebanon, Hizballah has embedded the vast majority of its bases, rocket launchers, and command posts in civilian regions, including a massive maze of underground tunnels and subterranean compounds.

Yet all is not well in Hizballah’s camp despite its clear and growing power. Hizballah is facing a dramatic economic crisis due to a shortage of cash flow from Iran, which itself has not yet received all of the funds it was expecting to get after signing the nuclear deal.

Hizballah’s expenses are not only military and terrorist. They include many civilian and political activities in Lebanon, for which it is now struggling to pay. Additionally, the fact that it has sustained more than 1,500 casualties in Syria has demoralized sections of the traditional Lebanese Shi’ite support base.

Nevertheless, Hizballah is pushing to build up its massive offensive capabilities against Israel.

It seeks more accurate rockets and missiles, while its leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly threatened to strike Israeli strategic targets such as ships carrying industrial ammonia to the Israeli city of Haifa, and Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona.

This does not mean Hizballah is seeking a conflict with Israel now, but it does mean that should a new war erupt in the future, Israel’s civilian population will face unprecedented threats.

Israel’s defense establishment is making its own preparations accordingly, based on the understanding that this Iranian agent has developed into a full-fledged terrorist army.

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life

March 13, 2017

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life, Rebel Media via YouTube. March 13, 2017

The blurb beneath the video states,

Less than 1 km from Gaza and the target of over 10,000 rockets, Mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi, tells Sheila Gunn Reid why he stays in what he describes as “the front line in the battle against evil”.

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’

March 13, 2017

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’, Long War Journal, , March 12, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights — DM)

Photo 1: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade, as portrayed in propaganda video.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

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The Iranian-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba this week announced the formation of its “Golan Liberation Brigade.” While it is not uncommon for entities to name themselves after areas they aim to “liberate,” the militia’s spokesman has said that the unit could assist the Syrian regime in taking the Golan Heights, a region in the Levant that has been controlled by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

If true, the unit would likely participate in a future offensive to capture territory from Syrian opposition in the part of the Golan Heights still controlled by Syria, before moving on to the much taller order of dislodging the Israelis across the border. This week’s announcement reflects Tehran’s priorities in southern Syria since finally taking the fiercely contested city of Aleppo late last year: crush Syrian opposition, and pose military threat to Israel from the Golan Heights. While the Islamic Republic is incapable of credibly challenging the Jewish state’s fortress in the Golan, reaffirming ideological commitment to fighting Israel signals defiance to a global audience amid a reportedly converging American-Arab-Israeli military alliance against Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, has sustained operations in the Syrian and Iraqi combat zones. An offshoot of the Iranian-backed militias Asaib Ahl al Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, Harakat al Nujaba was formed in 2013 to fight in the Syrian Civil War as part of Iranian-led Iraqi expeditionary forces. The militia joined the Popular Mobilization Forces, the umbrella organization of Iraqi militia, the following year, after the Islamic State incursion into Iraq. Operating as one of the largest Iraqi-Shiite militia contingents in Syria, the militia has claimed to field 10,000 forces. Harakat al Nujaba played an important role in assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Syrian regime forces conquer Aleppo late last year.

The Iraqi militia functions as an extension of the Islamic Republic. Having sworn full allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the militia promotes velayat-e faqih (guardianship of jurisprudence), the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology. Harakat al Nujaba takes direct orders from Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the IRGC extraterritorial branch the Qods Force. Last year, the Iraqi militia, which is also known as Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, proclaimed that it and Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran’s most powerful foreign militia, were “the twins of resistance.”

The militia leader Akram al Kabi is close to the top Iranian leadership, including the supreme leader. A co-founder of the Asaib Ahl al Haq – itself an offshoot of the Mahdi Army – Kabi was designated in September 2008 by the US Treasury as a terrorist for aiding Iraqi insurgents. In 2015, he openly said he would depose the Iraqi government if Khamenei issued the order. Last year, top Iranian officials close to Khamenei gave Kabi a highly publicized reception in Tehran, unprecedented in scope and scale for a militia leader. This past December, Harakat al Nujaba publicized Kabi’s meeting with Khamenei on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba has divulged some details about the Golan Liberation Brigade. The commander of the militia’s forces in Syria released a statement declaring the unit to be a synthesis of combat experiences gained in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The militia’s official spokesman confirmed the event as a press conference March 8 in Tehran at the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, saying the unit was formed following “recent victories” (an implicit reference to Aleppo). He claimed the Golan unit is comprised of “special” forces.

“Should the Syrian government make the request, we are ready to participate in the liberation of occupied Golan with our allies,” the spokesman said. “We will not permit the soil of Arab countries to remain in the grasps of occupiers.”

Harakat al Nujaba also released a video promoting the Golan unit that showed fighters marching in columns and carrying a banner reading, “Israel will be destroyed.”

(The video is at the link. — DM)

Tehran’s goal of establishing a foothold in the Golan Heights is not a secret. Last year, the head of the Israeli foreign and defense legislative committee revealed without divulging details that Israel had repelled several Iran-directed attempts to move forces into Syrian Golan Heights.

Senior Iranian military commanders are known to operate in Syrian Golan. Last July, the then-commander of the IRGC Basij paramilitary publicized an inspection of Quneitra by the Israel border. In January 2015, an Israeli strike in the area killed several high-value targets including IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi and multiple Hezbollah operatives.

A chasm remains between the capabilities and ambitions of Harakat al Nujaba and the IRGC to retake the Golan from Israel. The combined forces of the Syrian regime and IRGC-led militias are no match for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and this disparity is expected to hold for the foreseeable future. Israel could also adopt a more proactive approach in Syria to foil IRGC encroachment by the Golan, for example coordinating with Syrian rebels positioned in the area. Syrian Golan’s flat geography furthermore denies the IRGC suitable terrain to replicate the southern Lebanon model of concealing rocket launch sites dispersed across a widespread area, making it easier for the IDF to search and destroy weapons systems. For years, the IDF has been fortifying positions in the rocky plateau of Golan to face greater capabilities than the IRGC and its allies can muster.

Yet the claim to retake Israeli Golan underscores Harakat al Nujaba’s ideological commitment to the IRGC’s and Khamenei’s declared goal of destroying Israel. Khamenei and his top Guard generals have frequently spoken that that the divine hand would aid the faithful who take steps towards “divine-inspired” ideological principles.

Brandishing the formation of the Golan unit also challenges Arab countries on the Palestinian issue, as the Tehran has accused them of abandoning the cause in service of Israel. The Islamic Republic has slammed reported Arab-Israeli rapprochement and talks to form a US-brokered military coalition with the goal of countering Tehran, as covered in The Wall Street Journal. Last month, top Iranian government officials hosted another round of the Support of Palestinian Intifada Conference in a show of unity and defiance. This past week, Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader this week excoriated “some leaders in Islamic countries who are with Zionists,” calling them “not human.” Suffering from loss of legitimacy over support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad against a Sunni-Arab uprising and nervous over a converging Israeli-Arab alliance, the Islamic Republic is projecting to the globe and “sell-out”Arab leaders a defiant commitment to fighting Israel.

The Iraqi militia’s Golan unit and IRGC-led expeditionary forces could help pro-Syrian regime forces take opposition-held areas in the south. In February 2015, IRGC-led forces launched a failed campaign in the Daraa and Quneitra in the south. Since conquering Aleppo last year, the IRGC-led expeditionary forces and other pro-Syrian regime forces have been able to redirect their dwindling assets to several fronts in north, central, and south Syria. Pro-regime forces backed by Russian air power have been pounding Daraa in the south for more than a month to slow an opposition offensive, and have recently launched a new bid to capture it. An IRGC colonel was also killed last month in the area. A pro-Syrian regime propaganda outlet late last month reaffirmed the government’s intention to retake all of Daraa and open a major border crossing with Jordan. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces have made progress in the northern pocket of Quneitra Governorate, located in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan.

Map 1: southern Syria front, March 2017. Red: pro-Syrian regime forces. Green: rebel forces including Free Syrian Army and al Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat Fath al Sham. Black: Islamic State affiliates. Credit: Liveuamap.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to  project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

Photo 2.
Photo 3: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade flag at front, and “Israel will burn” banner in the back.

Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.