Above, Nimrod Castle on the Golan Heights.
The Israel Defense Forces is preparing for the possibility of a limited ground incursion into Syria in the case of massive rocket fire from the country falling on Israeli territory, Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Sunday. The IDF carried out a large division-scale exercise this past week in the Golan Heights which included the scenario, according to the report. The preparations are being made in response to the rise in power of radical Islamists in Syria and an understanding that the current calm on Israel’s northern front is more fluid than it appears to be and could change at any moment. According to recent reports, some extremist elements in Syria may have gained control of chemical weapons stockpiles, and the IDF exercise included preparations for this possibility as well. However, Israel’s defense establishment has estimated that the chances of such a scenario materializing are very low.
Israel is also continuing its preparations for a possible wide-scale confrontation with Hezbollah. In recent years, the Iranian terror proxy’s plans have centered on carrying a future war into Israeli territory, and in response the IDF has practiced the evacuation of citizens and communities located near Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon. Aside from the training, Israel has reportedly been carrying out operational strikes against targets in Syria to prevent weapons from being smuggled through that country to Hezbollah bases in southern Lebanon, but with limited success. Additionally, according to Channel 2, Iran’s role in the ongoing Syrian civil war is becoming more dominant and is transforming from mere assistance to the regime of Bashar al-Assad to a leadership role in fighting rebel forces. Evidence of this is the extensive involvement of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, responsible for terrorist operations outside of Iran, in the activities occurring on the Golan Heights.