Senior Iranian and Hezbollah figures killed in an airstrike in Syria this weekend were likely planning an 'imminent' attack on Israel, security sources have claimed.
Six Iranian army chiefs died alongside five Hezbollah militants after an Israeli helicopter fired rockets at a convoy in the Golan Heights region on Sunday.
Among those killed was Iranian General Mohammed Allahdadi, as well as commander Abu Ali Tabatabai, who is known to have worked with both Hezbollah and Iran.
Today Major General Eyal Ben Reuven, a former deputy head in the Israeli Defense Forces, accused the senior military figures of meeting to plot an attack on Israel.
Research group The Israel Project came to a similar conclusion, saying that the presence of Tabatabai 'probably indicates operations aimed at overrunning Israeli border towns.'
The warnings come just a week after Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, warned that the group 'is ready and prepared for a confrontation in the Galilee and beyond the Galilee.'
Iran has also promised a 'crushing response' to the weekend strike, without laying out exactly what action will be taken.
General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, said: 'These martyrdoms proved the need to stick with jihad. The Zionists must await ruinous thunderbolts.
'The Revolutionary Guards will fight to the end of the Zionist regime... We will not rest easy until this epitome of vice is totally deleted from the region's geopolitics.'
The latest strike, which Israel has also not officially accepted responsibility for, has seen tensions in the already volatile region come to a head.
Israel has already been carrying out a series of controversial airstrikes in Syria which it says are to prevent rockets from Bashar Al-Assad's regime and Iran being passed to Hezbollah.
Hezbollah has previously used such missile stockpiles to attack Israel from Lebanon, such as in the brief by bloody 33-day war between the two countries in 2006.
Nasrallah had already called the strikes 'a major aggression', warning that Hezbollah has a 'right to respond', even before Sunday's attack.
The attack took place in the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights region.
Most of the rocky plateau in south western Syria was seized by Israel in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War. About 200 square miles remains under Syrian control.
Iran was caught with its pants down over the weekend when an Israeli missile barrage took out a convoy near the Golan Heights in Syria, carring 6 Iranian agents, including a Revolutionary Guard general, and 5 members of the terrorist group Hezb'allah.
The Iranians threatened retaliation "in due time and place," Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was quoted as saying.
What were six Iranian nationals doing in Syria?
The Israeli strike came just days after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that the terror group was preparing for a war in Israel’s northern Galilee region.
It also occurred just a week after Iranian military leaders announced that they are operating missile sites in Syria, which potentially include a nuclear facility.
Senior Iranian and Hezbollah commanders were likely planning a sophisticated invasion of Israel’s northern border in the weeks before they were killed by an Israeli airstrike over the weekend, according to Major General Eyal Ben Reuven, the former deputy head of the Israeli Defense Forces Northern Command.
The accuracy of Israel’s strike and the high-level nature of those Iranian and Hezbollah commanders killed indicates planning for a militant incursion into Israel’s northern region, according to Reuven, who said the airstrike shows a “very high level of intelligence” on Israel’s part.
The high-level nature of the Iranian and Hezbollah operatives targeted by Israel suggests that an attack on Israel was imminent, according to Reuven, who handled top intelligence in the region during his time serving in the IDF.
“It says something about what they plan, what kind of operation they planned,” he added. “If Israel has intelligence that says there is a kind of operation on the way to act against Israel, I think Israel would have a legitimate [reason] to do all we can to prevent it.”
The strike that killed these 11 militants was “very, very professional,” according to Reuven, and would require “very, very high level intelligence” and “very accurate” targeting information.
Iran quickly confirmed that one of its top commanders had been killed in the strike, according to Farsi language reports.
The reported Israeli strike on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights on Sunday, in which an Iranian general and several leading Hezbollah figures were killed, targeted a Hezbollah project to establish missile bases in the area from which to strike at Israel, an Israeli TV report said Tuesday night.
The report, which quoted Lebanese media and sources, seemed to confirm an earlier story in the London Times which said the Iranian general killed, Mohammed Ali Allahdadi, was a ballistic missile expert who was visiting Syria as part of a project to set up the missile bases near the border with Israel.
Israel’s Channel 2, quoting Lebanese sources, said Jihad Mughniyeh, son of late Hezbollah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh and head of the Shiite group’s operations in the Syrian Golan Heights, and Mohammed Issa, another senior Hezbollah officer, were overseeing the establishment of the missile bases. Issa was responsible for coordinating the transfer of missiles from Syria, Lebanon and Iran to be emplaced in the area.
The Israeli cabinet met earlier Tuesday to prepare possible responses to any escalation across the border. Some roads near the Lebanon border have been closed, and farmers told not to work their fields. Israeli forces in the area have also been bolstered, the TV report said. Security details in northern communities were reportedly put on high alert, although residents near the Syrian and Lebanese borders have not been given special warnings or instructions.