Israeli Attack in Syria – 5 Hizbollad Men Killed

The son of slain Hezbollah military leader Imad Mughniyeh and four confederates were killed yesterday when an helicopter fired missiles at his car in the syrian province of Quneitra, near the border with Israel, Hezbollah official media confirmed, ” Haaretz writes.

Jihad Mughniyeh and the four other guerrillas were killed when their convoy was hit. His father, who was on the United States’ most wanted list for atttacks on Israeli and Western targets, was assassinated in Damascus in 2008. It is wideley assumed that Israel planted the car bomb that killed him.

Syrian state media reported that the air strike killed six people and wounded a child.

Hizbollah fighters in towns and villages along the border with Israel went on high alert, said an official from the group. In the Shi’ite-dominated areas of south Lebanon and Beirut, the streets emptied quickly as residents feared an escalation. Hizbollah-run Al-manar TV warned that Israel was “playing with fire that puts the security of the whole Middle East on edge.”

The strike came three days after Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said he considerd frequent Israeli strikes in Syria as major acts of aggression , and that Syria and its allies had the right to respond. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Basher Assad’s forces in Syria’s nearly four-year -old civil war. Israel has struck Syria several times since the destroying weaponary such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for their long-time foe Hezbollah in neighboring leabanon.

A Hezbollah official said yesterday’s dead included another senior Hezbollah commander, Mohammed Issa, and at least one Iranian national with the group.

The air strike targeted two Hezbollah vehicles as fighters were inspecting positions in the Golan Heights, close to the Israeli-controlled frontier. A Syrian activist said Hizbollah was widely rumored to be training pro-Assad militiamen and Syrian government forces near the area.

In October, it was reported that Jihad Mughniyeh was appointed to head Hizbollah’s Golan division. The reports emerged from Syrian opposition groups and were not confirmed by Hizbollah. Mohad Razlan, a senior official in the Syrian National Council, said at the time that the appointment stemmed from Hizbollah’s decission to expand its operations.

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Israeli gunships

Earlier, the Lebanese website E1-Nashara reported that Israli gunships targeted a senior Hezbollah official. According to the report in Al Mayadeen, two Israeli planes circled the Syrian Golan Heights at the same time to collect intelligence.

Lebanon’s MTV network reported that the missiles targeted a rocket -launching cell preparing to fire at Israel. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported on its Arabic-language site that the Israel aircraft bombed a Syrian target.

The Israel Defense Forces said it would not comment on foreign reports.

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However ,Maj. Gen.(res.) Yoav Galant, a former head of IDF SouthernCommand,hinted in an interview with Channel 2 that the timing of the strike was linked to the upcoming Knesset election.

“Based on past incidents, one can deduce that sometimes the timing isn’t entirely unconnected to the election.”he said.

Galant, who is running for Knesset as part of the Kulanu party, further insinuated that the IDF’s assassination of Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari in November 2012 was also timed to take place just before an election.
Galant said there had been numerous opportunities to carry out the operation long before the election campaign.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennet dismissed Galant’s statements as politically motivated. He called on Kulanu party leader Galant to retract them “before damage is caused”. Bennet had no comment on the reports of the air strike

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Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon refused to address the incident directly.
“Every time something happens in the region, we are blamed,” he told Kol Hai Radio. “I have no interest in addressing this. We have heard Hizbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah’s speech last week.He denied the presence of Hezbollah operatives in the Golan.If this true, he has some explaining to do.”

Earlier Sunday, the Lebanese army released an officiel statement declaring that four Israel Defense Forces vehicles approached the border and soldiers hurled smoke grenades and tear gas into Lebanese territory. Three Lebanese soldiers suffered smoke inhalation. The army lanched a complaint with UNIFIL.

Also in December, official Syrian media reported that Israeli Jets had bombed targets near Damascus International Airport and in the town of Diamas, north of Damascus and near the border with Lebanon. Israel refused to respond to reports.