by Lilach Shoval
Army on high alert for possible terrorist attacks by Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades, affiliated with Islamic State, or other jihadist groups such as Nusra Front, affiliated with al-Qaida • Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot tours northern border.
The Israeli military is preparing for the possibility of a significant terrorist attack by jihadist radicals, including the Islamic State-affiliated Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades, on the Israel-Syria border. The army is also on high alert for possible strategic terrorist attacks by other global jihadist groups such as the Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al-Qaida.
Based on the modus operandi of the Nusra Front and Islamic State, the Israel Defense Forces examined several possible ways these groups could act against Israel. One scenario for an attack, according to the assessments, is smuggling explosives-laden vehicles into Israel. Additionally, officials were not negating the possibility of a terrorist ground force infiltrating Israel, firing anti-tank missiles at Israeli targets, planting explosive devices and launching rockets.
The Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades controls the border area shared by Jordan, Israel and Syria, extending over around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles). According to estimates, the organization comprises some 600 fighters who impose their will on some 40,000 locals. The organization itself is surrounded by numerous other rebel groups with which it is fighting, including the Nusra Front, and is "besieged" in a type of enclave in the southern Syrian Golan Heights.
Aside from the Shuhada al-Yarmouk Brigades, Israel is also closely monitoring the many additional rebel groups fighting one another on the Syrian Golan, which control about 90% of the area bordering Israel.
At this stage, Israel believes that these groups' resources are not focused on Israel, but the situation could change in the future because they consider the Jewish state an enemy. These concerns were highlighted over the weekend following a recorded speech by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in which he threatened Israel directly.
With regard to Lebanon, the IDF has refused to comment officially about its increased deployment along the northern border, following Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's threats to avenge the assassination of the terrorist Samir Kuntar, killed last week in Damascus.
However, it appears the IDF has taken Nasrallah's proclamations very seriously, using its electronic surveillance units to keep close track of the Shiite terrorist organization and its movements.
Amid the tense atmosphere, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, accompanied by GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, toured the Golan and Upper Galilee areas on Wednesday. During the tour, Eizenkot visited several outposts along the border.
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