´Golan Heights turning into terror base like Sinai,´ says intel chief (ISRAEL HAYOM) Mati Tuchfeld, the Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff 07/18/12)
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Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi warns "The Golan is liable to become an arena
of operations against Israel in much the same way the Sinai is
today" • Assad has pulled troops out of the Golan to fight the
rebels, creating a power vacuum there • Hezbollah´s arsenal six times
larger than in 2006 war.
Israel Defense Forces Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen.
Aviv Kochavi on Tuesday warned that global jihadists have moved into
Syrian territory bordering the Golan Heights and could soon use the
area to stage attacks on Israel.
In a briefing to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee,
Kochavi said that Islamic terrorists have taken advantage of the
chaos created by the Syrian civil war to approach the Golan area.
He said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has pulled troops out of the
Golan to fight rebels in other parts of the country, after concluding
that the likelihood of war with Israel at this time is low.
Kochavi´s comments were echoed on Wednesday by Strategic Affairs
Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya´alon, himself a former head of military
intelligence. Speaking on Army Radio, Ya´alon said Israel should
prepare for instability in Syria to reach the Golan Heights.
"Assad is living on borrowed time, he cannot reconstitute his
legitimacy to rule, he´s crossed the point of no return," Ya´alon
Kochavi told lawmakers that a power vacuum has created a possible
arena in the Golan Heights for anti-Israel operations, similar to
what was happening in Egypt´s Sinai region, where the government in
Cairo is finding it hard to impose its authority on the desert
"The Golan area is liable to become an arena of operations against
Israel in much the same way the Sinai is today, and that´s a result
of the increasing entrenchment of global jihad in Syria," he said.
An increase in suicide bombings and other signature attacks in Syria
has led experts to conclude that al-Qaida is taking a role in the
uprising against Assad´s regime. Though al-Qaida´s main targets have
been the West and secular Arab regimes, the group has also tried to
Since the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak early last
year, terrorists based in Egypt´s Sinai have carried out two deadly
cross-border raids into Israel and fired several rockets at Israeli
territory, and more than 10 terrorist networks based in the Sinai
Peninsula have been destroyed recently, Kochavi said.
While Kochavi did not reveal who the terrorists were or who disrupted
their networks, he warned the Knesset committee that Islamic
terrorists operating out of Sinai would continue in their efforts to
create geopolitical crises.
Kochavi said that for Egypt´s newly-elected president, Mohammed
Morsi, the security situation in Sinai was only a secondary priority,
coming after his need to establish his leadership.
"In Egypt there is a clear power struggle between the military and
the Islamists. The fact that Egyptian President Morsi is considered
the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood there hurts his
confidence to make decisions and obligates him to seek advice from
the [Brotherhood´s] leadership, which has been kept outside of the
president´s sphere of power," said Kochavi.
The Israel-Syria border has been mostly quiet since 1974.
Israel, which captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six-Day War, has
closely monitored the civil war in Syria. While Israel has been
careful not to get involved, Israel fears that Assad´s formidable
arsenal of missiles and chemical weapons could slip into the hands of
Hezbollah or other terrorist groups.
Kochavi, repeating the assessment of other Israeli officials, judged
Assad´s days to be numbered, but he did not estimate how long he
would be able to cling to power. "Assad could be in power from
anywhere between two months and two years," Kochavi said.
Kochavi showed the panel satellite photographs that he said showed
Syrian troops "brutally" firing artillery indiscriminately into an
unidentified populated urban area, the meeting participant said. He
did not say when or where the attack took place. Kochavi reportedly
told the MKs that the Syrian army´s brutality was a sign of its
frustration at not having better military options against the rebels.
During the civil war in neighboring Syria, Lebanon-based Hezbollah
has been supporting the Assad regime, which Israel says has boosted
Hezbollah over the years by allowing shipment of Iranian arms through
Syrian territory to the Lebanese organization.
Kochavi warned that Hezbollah is preparing for the aftermath of
Assad´s fall by amassing Iranian weapons.
He estimated Hezbollah now possesses 70,000 to 80,000 missiles and
rockets capable of striking Israel — up to six times the number the
group possessed before the Second Lebanon War in 2006.
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