The Israel Defense Forces are preparing for the possibility of a substantial terrorist attack on the Israel-Syria border, following the recent terror attacks in Sinai and Paris. The likelihood is that such an attack would be carried out by extremist jihadists, including a branch of the Islamic State,
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According to IDF intelligence assessments, the group Shuhada al-Yarmouk (“The Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade”) currently controls the area where three national borders meet in the southern Golan Heights, a territory of some 10 square kilometers. The defense establishment considers the group, which is currently focused on contending with Jabhat al-Nusra, another Islamist rebel organization, to be an indirect extension of ISIS.
Although defense sources believe that a border attack in the border region is possible, they expressed doubt that it would happen in the near future.
IDF sources are of the view that the series of ISIS-inspired terrorist attacks in France, the United States and Sinai reflect a strategic change in the operational methods of global jihad, with a new focus on attacking Western targets. One of the “strategic terrorist attack” scenarios raised in the IDF is that jihadists manage to get a vehicle packed with explosives into Israeli territory, where they detonate it.
Thus, for example, the IDF Northern Command views the Golan Heights border crossing at Quneitra as a potential weak spot, which could be a target for such an attack. Field officers on the Golan front distinguish between a localized “tactical” attack and an ISIS-style attack that is directed from the center.
Based on the known methods of the Nusra Front and and the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, which are currently fighting one another, army staff analyzed a number of possible approaches that such a strategic attack could adopt. According to their assessment, an attack could include anti-tank fire, the laying of explosive charges planted in advance and rocket fire.
At the same time, IDF officials are taking seriously the threats made by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s to respond to the assassination of Samir Kuntar. Kuntar, who spent over 30 years in an Israeli jail, died in the bombing of a building in Syria which has been attributed to Israel. Up to now, terrorist cells directed by the Iranians have carried out a number of attacks against IDF forces, including the firing of 12 rockets and the laying of explosives that caused two incidents in which Israeli soldiers were wounded.
On Wednesday, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot toured the Golan and Galilee sector with the head of the Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi. Since the assassination of Kuntar 10 days ago, a state of readiness has been noted on the border, with both Lebanese and Israeli farmers having been instructed to stay clear of the border fence.