Top IDF Officer: Terrorist Threat in Syria Could Be Directed at Israel

Speaking at Bar-Ilan University, GOC Command chief says Israel is waging a daily and indirect war with Iran through its proxies in the region.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The deterioration of Syria's central regime could lead to a growing terrorist threat against Israel, a top Israel Defense Forces official said on Wednesday, adding that Israel was fighting a daily and indirect war with Iran through its proxies in the region.

Speaking at Bar-Ilan University, GOC Northern Command chief Yair Golan said that it was his estimation that the "terrorist threat from Syria in Israel was taking shape. Will it happen as soon as tomorrow? Probably not. Is it something we must prepare for? I think so."

"It isn't hard to imagine a reality in which al-Qaida elements currently in Syria and actively working against the Syrian regime would at some point start working against us," Golan added, saying the vacuum created in Syria could turn the country into an operational base for Lebanese militant organization Hezbollah.

Golan also reiterated concerns voiced in the past as to the future of Syria's reported stockpile of weapons of mass destruction amid civil unrest in the country.

"Syria has a substantial and powerful arsenal, some of which is very advanced, from surface-to-air missiles, sea-to-surface missiles, to chemical weapons. What will happen to that arsenal? What will be the fate of this stockpile in a failing country, with a lack of an effective regime?" Golan asked.

The IDF official also spoke at length about the current position of Hezbollah, saying the militant group was split between three "personalities": as an authentic voice for Shi'ite Lebanon and protector for the country; as a force in the fight against Israel; and as an extension of Iran's Islamic revolution.

"Today Hezbollah is in an awkward position. The resistance [against Israel] has a heavy price, as was evident in 2006. With all of our dissatisfaction from the IDF's operative level during the Second Lebanon War, the strategic achievement is significant. We have been enjoying quiet unlike any we have experienced since 1968."

However, Golan, added, that achievement was not the "end of the line. In the meantime, [Hezbollah] is building its power to an unprecedented level for a terror or guerilla group."

Referring to Israel's standoff with Iran, Golan said that Israel was "indirectly waging a daily war with Iran."

"It doesn't matter if it's through [Islamic] Jihad in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran is here, and its negative influence is significant. It isn't a question of 'maybe.' Its influence in Syria too is discernable."

The wreckage of a bus carrying officers and soldiers after an explosion on a road in Aleppo May 28, 2012. Credit: Reuters

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