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Israel media braces country for Hizballah attack Open in fullscreen

Saleh al-Naami

Israel media braces country for Hizballah attack

Israeli journalists say they expect an attack to come from the Golan area [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2015

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Commentators say an attack is imminent from Shia group after Israel bombs destroyed a Hizballah-Iranian convoy travelling through Syrian side of Golan Heights.

The Israeli media has been heavy with speculation on how Hizballah will respond to an attack on a Hizballah-Iranian column in Syria, with many journalists saying a retaliatory attack is inevitable.

Commentators think the high ranks of many of the dead - including an Iranian general and a senior Hizballah commander - will increase pressure to retaliate.

security analyst Yossi Melman said Israel was not interested in covering up its responsibility, as it did when it killed senior Hizballah member Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus in 2008 and the group's military commander Hassan al-Laqqis in Beirut in 2013. Both of these deaths were attributed to the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

Click here to read Tim Cook on the calculations behind Israel's attack on convoy.

Military affairs reporter Yoav Limor thinks Hizballah will plan a response that does not lead to an outbreak of a full scale conflict with Israel because it is preoccupied with fighting in Syria and because a number of senior officials are in Iraq fighting the Islamic State group.

In an article published on Monday, Limor predicted limited operations against Israeli forces in the Shebaa farms, a small strip of disputed land on the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Limor also did not rule out the possibility of Hizballah firing a small number of rockets into northern Israel, or attack Israeli targets outside the country.

However, in an article published in Maariv, Alon Ben-David said Hizballah was scared to attack Jewish or Israeli targets outside of Israel because it would put it in the same list as the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda, especially after the recent terrorists attack in Paris against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

He said a most realistic scenario is Hizballah carrying out its operations from the Golan Heights, whether through rocket attacks or roadside bombs. He reported that sources in the Israeli military were concerned about attacks on cities and settlements in northern Israel.

Ben-David said Hizballah's advantage in attacking Israel from the Golan Hieghts is that it strips Israel of justification to retaliate against the group in Lebanon.

     According to one Israeli report, Hizballah's missile stockpile is being saved for when Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.

Ron Ben-Yishai, a leading Israeli defence commentator, said in an article published in Yediot Aharonot that Hizballah does not wish to deplete its missile stockpile, which is being saved for when Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.

Many Israeli journalists have started to question the political motives behind the leaders who ordered the attack.

Maariv's commentator Ben Caspit warned that Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Ya'alon, Israel's prime and defence ministers, may be be trying to boost their popularity on the eve of March elections.

Supporters have leaked information trying to legitimise the attack and make it seem as if it was a pre-emptive strike.

Israel's Channel 10 reported that Abu Ali Tabatabai, the head of Hizballah's offensive operations, was in charge of the convoy and was planning for a confrontation with Israel.

It was also reported that Jihad Mughniyeh, who was also killed in the attack, was in charge of preparing the Golan Heights to be the launching point for attacks against Israel.

This is an edited translation on the original Arabic.

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