JERUSALEM – The Mideast war of words heated up this week as Syrian president Bashar Assad threatened to destroy Tel Aviv in six hours with a volley of upgraded Scud missiles if Turkish or NATO forces threatened his teetering regime.
According to Israeli military sources, Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces are on the ground in Damascus, Beirut and Gaza, directing attacks on civilians and anti-government forces in Syria, integrating sophisticated weapons, including Scud missiles, into Hizbullah’s formidable arsenal and smuggling weapons into Gaza via tunnels along the porous Egypt-Gaza border.
On Monday, recently retired IDF Southern Command General Yoav Gallant backed IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s call for a lightning invasion of Gaza to wipe out Hamas’s terror infrastructure. Gallant chided the previous Israeli government for not finishing the job in Gaza during the course of Operation Cast Lead.
On Tuesday, a large garrison of IDF infantry and tank forces was positioned between the metro Eilat region and Egypt’s Northern Sinai desert after military intelligence once again warned of an impending attack on Israeli civilians by Islamic Jihad and al-Qaeda groups operating along the lawless Sinai corridor. Annual high school and youth group trips to the mountainous desert regions around Eilat were canceled due to the terror threats. (Hotels in Eilat, which are currently filled with domestic and foreign tourists, were operating normally.)
Last week, the IDF conducted a series of intense drills to defend against conventional and unconventional attacks on major population centers. High-ranking Pentagon and IDF officials have also met in recent days to map out plans to defend Israeli and American forces in case of an Iranian attack.
The London Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that Iranian Revolutionary Guard units were moving medium and long range missiles into secret bunkers in anticipation of either an American or Israeli attack on nuclear and ballistic missile facilities.
The Revolutionary Guards threatened to retaliate against American targets after a U.S. Air Force stealth drone was shot down over Southern Iran last weekend.