The IDF is forming a new division to operate in the Golan Heights, which faces a new threat of Hezbollah terrorists and weapons that had been limited to the Lebanese border before Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah sent his army to fight with Assad loyalists against Syrian rebels.
The new Golan division reflects the new situation in the Golan Heights, which now is on the border of clashes between Assad’s army and rebels and has been subject to frequent rifle fire and mortar shelling, usually accidental and sometimes intentional.
The military’s other four divisions are located along the border with Lebanon, in the Negev, next to Gaza and in Judea and Samaria.
Syrian President Bassar al-Assad has demanded for years that Israel surrender the strategic Golan Heights, but despite Syria’s being a declared enemy, Israel has enjoyed the advantage of a stable regime across the border. Stability usually is preferable to the unknown, especially if it is in the enemy’s court.
The rebellion in Syria more than two years ago created a nervous uncertainty in Israel, and Hezbollah’s recent move into the area has extended the area from which the terrorist organization can strike.
Nasrallah threatened earlier this year to turn the Golan Heights into a new front against Israel.
Israel has been preparing for a another attack from Lebanon ever since the end of the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Hezbollah has stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets and anti-tank missiles, most of them smuggled in from Syria, with Iranian and Russian trademarks.
Hezbollah is gathering intelligence on the IDF in the Golan Heights, according to Reuters, quoting an Israeli source. “It is not at an alarming level now but we understand their intentions,” he said.
Adding to Israel’s concerns are the heavy presence of Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups fighting alongside the rebels. Whichever side wins, Israel loses, assuming that the same instability that replaced Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt will be the case in Syria.
“We know they are busy now but once it ends they will turn their guns on us,” the military source told Reuters. “We’re not waiting for an attack. We’re building the border fence; we have sent up tanks, more regiments, field intelligence … and increased observations.”
For what it’s worth, the United Security Council on Wednesday called on Hezbollah to end its involvement in Syria.
“The Security Council calls upon all Lebanese parties to recommit to Lebanon’s policy of disassociation, to stand united behind President Michel Suleiman in this regard and to step back from any involvement in the Syrian crisis,” the Council said.
The United Nations did not name Hezbollah, due to Russian objections, but Hezbollah clearly was intended.
Given the previous failures of the international body to live up to its commitment to disarm Hezbollah after the Second Lebanon War, Wednesday’s statement can safely be discarded.