Golan Attack Exposes Iran’s Growing Presence on Israel’s Borders

Israel’s successful hit on a convoy in the Syrian Golan exposed the extent of Iran’s efforts to wage war. Hezbollah threatened that its response “would be painful and unexpected.”

By: Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira

Iranian Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi (R) was killed in the Golan by the IAF. (Photo: Twitter)[/caption]

Hezbollah confirmed that an attack was conducted against a joint Iranian/Hezbollah reconnaissance operation in Mazrat al-Amal in the Quneitra area on the Golan Heights. Following the attack, Hezbollah announced the death of six of its operatives headed by Jihad Mughniyeh, son of the notorious former Hezbollah operation chief Imad Mughniyeh. Just a few months ago Jihad Mughniyeh was appointed commander of the Golan front for Hezbollah.

Similarly, at least three Iranian Quds Force commanders were killed including General Mohammed Allahdadi, Ali Tabatabai, and an additional Iranian by the name of Assadi, who was, in all likelihood, the commander of the Iranian expeditionary forces in Syria.  In Hezbollah’s official announcement, no details were mentioned about the deaths of Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers who were present. Details about them, however, were provided by Iranian sources.

Ali Tabatabai, also known as Abu Ali Rida, was responsible on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for the Golan front with Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh. General Allahdadi, whose real name is Hushang Allahdad, was the IRGC liaison officer to Hezbollah and to Syrian Intelligence and in charge of the weapons shipments from Iran to Hezbollah.

In an official statement, Hezbollah threatened that its response “would be painful and unexpected.” Hezbollah’s media outlet, al-Manar, reported: “Tel Aviv is playing with fire which would threaten the security of the whole Middle East.”  Unidentified sources quoted by the Lebanese daily al-Safir, assessed that the response would be “controlled and would stop short of an escalation leading to an all-out war.” In parallel, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Muhammad Zarif condemned the operation attributed to Israel but he refrained to issuing a concrete threat against Israel.

Iran Expanding

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Ayatollah Mahari,  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s personal representative, called upon the world and its religious authorities — including the Sunni center of al-Azhar — to condemn the attack against “the heroes of Hezbollah.” Mahari stressed that the attack exposed Israel’s failure to thwart the Iranian achievements in the nuclear negotiations by means of a provocation against Tehran. Mahari expressed his hope that Hezbollah would respond wisely. Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of the Iranian National Security Council, promised that Hezbollah would respond at a convenient time and place.

The fact that at least three high-ranking IRGC officers were killed in the attack highlights once more that Iran perceives Syria and Lebanon as Tehran’s first line of defense against Israel. Iran has repeatedly demonstrated its steadfastness towards Syria and Hezbollah as it enjoys the strategic-military and political benefits arising from maintaining its ongoing radical military and political presence in Syria. Assistance to Syria and Hezbollah and an active ground presence in both countries are seen as additional expressions of Iran’s national defense doctrine. This is meant to distance the Iranian homeland from any threat and to conduct the campaign against Israel and the West in areas distant from Iran’s borders.

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.