Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, who was killed in Sunday's strike. Iran is not short of generals
Nahum Barnea
An operational hitch or a flaw in decision making?
Analysis: Jihad Mughniyeh and the Iranian general killed in Sunday's strike will be replaced by others. Israel has allegedly brought upon itself the next string of terror attacks, in the Golan or in the heart of Israel or in Jewish centers abroad, without gaining a thing.
The cruelest test – and the most important one – is the outcome criteria. When one examines Sunday's incident in the Syrian Golan Heights according to its outcome, there is no escape from saying that there was a mishap. Correction: Two mishaps.



The halfhearted apology by an anonymous Israeli source on Tuesday did not offset the first mishap. On the contrary, it made it worse.


The air strike on the Hezbollah convoy killed Iranian general Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, senior Hezbollah member Mohammad Issa, Hezbollah's commander in the Syrian Golan, Jihad Mughniyeh, and three other organization fighters.


Official Israel did not confirm or deny it, but no one in the world had any doubts about the source of the strike.


Since there is a heavy veil of secrecy on the incident, any attempt to analyze the intention, what the decisions were based on and what actually happened, is deficient. The reader can search for secret information here, but to no avail: The information isn't available right now. Under these restrictions, a number of troubling points are raised.


Jihad Mughniyeh will be replaced by another Hezbollah man, who will likely be more experienced and more dangerous (Photo: AP) (Photo: AP)
Jihad Mughniyeh will be replaced by another Hezbollah man, who will likely be more experienced and more dangerous (Photo: AP)


In order to remove any doubts, I didn't shed a single tear over the death of the Iranian general and the five Hezbollah men. Iran is an enemy and Hezbollah is an enemy, and they are both hoping for Israel's destruction and doing the best they can to fulfill this goal. And like in a war, in the past few years there have been many secret operations against the Iranian nuclear program and against the arming of the Lebanese organization. There have also been targeted assassinations, in Iran, in Syria and in Lebanon which were attributed to Israel.


These activities were conducted during the terms of previous governments and the current Israeli government, and usually ended without leaving a trace.


Sunday's incident was completely different.


Let's go back to the lessons of the past for a minute: On February 16, 1992, an IDF chopper struck the car of Abbas Musawi, the Hezbollah secretary-general. The attack killed Musawi, as well as his wife and son and four other people.


The Iranian regime swore that it would retaliate, and the revenge was completely disproportional. A month after the strike, the Israeli Embassy building in Buenos Aires was bombed. Twenty-nine people, Israelis and Argentineans, were killed in the bombing. It was a serious terror attack.


The Iranians didn't settle for that. The Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires was attacked later on. Eighty-five people were killed.


The Iranians never claimed responsibility for the attacks. This week, when the prosecutor who investigated the affair was about to detail the evidence pointing to Iran's involvement in the attack and the attempts made to cover it up later on, he was shot in his apartment in Buenos Aires.


This was the Iranians' way of making their price tag clear to Israel: When we kill someone who is important to them, they will embark on a mass terror spree, which will make no distinction between involved and uninvolved people, between Israelis and Jews. They will not hesitate to use their embassies in the world and, of course, Hezbollah, whose men are trained for such missions.


In retrospect, the strike was a mistake. It carried a heavy price, and the relatively modest Musawi was replaced by the charismatic Hassan Nasrallah. Hezbollah wasn't weakened, and missing Israeli navigator Ron Arad did not return.


When an aircraft struck the Hezbollah convoy on Sunday, it was travelling on Syrian territory, about 500 meters (1,640 feet) from the Israeli border. The convoy's passengers were not considered a ticking bomb: They were patrolling the area, not preparing for battle.


Were they destined to end their lives like Imad Mughniyeh, Hezbollah's head of security, and other senior members who were killed in similar circumstances? I doubt it. The killed Iranian general will be replaced by another general. Iran is not short of generals. The 25-year-old Jihad Mughniyeh will be replaced by another Hezbollah man, who will likely be more experienced and more dangerous, just like Nasrallah turned out to be more dangerous than Musawi.


Israel has allegedly brought upon itself the next string of terror attacks, in the Golan or in the heart of Israel or in Jewish centers in the world, without gaining a thing.


In one word: A hitch. The fact that an Israeli source is now admitting that the Iranian general was killed by accident shows that suspicious journalists are not the only ones who think so. So do sources in Israel's defense establishment.


There may have been an operational mishap here: Such mishaps can happen. They are part of the price we pay for being an attacked country, a country at war.


Or there may have been a flaw in the decision making process. Such a strike is only carried out after receiving the approval of the political echelon, the prime minister and the defense minister. The army suggests it, the political echelon considers it, sometimes approves and sometimes rejects. In any event, the political echelon is responsible.


If Israel did carry out the strike, how did cautious people like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon give their approval for such an operation? This questions remains unanswered for now.


The question of timing is raised on its own: The elections are coming up, and any decision made by the prime minister, especially a decision which contradicts his past decisions in its nature, is also examined according to its possible effect on the voters.


On the eve of the elections, the prime minister is seeking to appropriate the security and the maturity. I'm not sure that the residents of the Galilee, who anxiously watched their roads being closed and IDF forces being stationed in the area on Tuesday, were convinced that he is right.


פרסום ראשון: 01.22.15, 00:44
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