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Source: China Daily China Daily

Israel steps up security for possible Syria airstrike

Published: 25 Feb 2015 23:50:23 PST

Israel steps up security for possible Syria airstrike

Israeli soldiers walk near the border between Israel-occupied Golan Heights and Lebanon, on Jan 19, 2015. Israel on Sunday fired two rockets from the Israel-occupied Golan Heights toward a southern Syrian town, killing six Lebanese Hezbollah fighters, including several senior commanders of the military group, according to local press. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM -- Israel stepped up security precautions along its northern borders for possible retaliation by Hezbollah over a Sunday airstrike that killed a number of its fighters, local media reported.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) deployed Iron Dome anti-missile batteries at several spots in northern Israel, the Arabic Sky News network reported Monday evening. No official IDF confirmation was available at the moment.

Although Israeli officials did not acknowledge the strike, the IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said on Monday afternoon that the army is prepared and monitoring the developments in the region.

"The IDF is prepared, tracking all developments, and ready to act as needed," Gantz said at a military event, according to the Ynet news website.

Israeli media also reported changes in military deployment in the north. According to the Ha'aretz daily, the IDF did not let several units deployed along the northern border go on leave as planned. The IDF had also raised the level of alert in outposts along the Syrian and Lebanese borders, according to the Ynet website.

Furthermore, Channel 10 reported that farmers in the border town of Mettulah were told by the military to stay away from the border fence.

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Israel steps up security for possible Syria airstrike

An Israeli soldier directs a tank onto a truck near the border between Israel-occupied Golan Heights and Lebanon, on Jan 19, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

Israel also shut down the airspace over the Golan Heights on Monday, ordering civil aircraft to stay out of the area. The airspace above Israel's north, east of the Jordan River, was closed to all civil aircraft except for agricultural aircraft several kilometers from the Syrian border.

An Israeli official confirmed to Xinhua that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would convene a meeting of his security cabinet on Tuesday to discuss the recent developments in the area and the security arrangements up north.

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu said that Israel "insists on its right to defend itself against those who will perpetrate terror attacks against its citizens and attack them."

The airstrike, attributed to Israel, took place on Sunday in the Syrian Golan Heights, near the town of Quneitra. A helicopter struck a convoy of vehicles, killing six operatives of the Lebanese Shi'ite militant organization Hezbollah, including Jihad Mughniyah.

Jihad was a commander and the son of Imad Mughniya, a former commander of Hezbollah believed to have been assassinated by Israel in 2008.

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Israel steps up security for possible Syria airstrike

Israeli soldiers pack their gears near the border between Israel-occupied Golan Heights and Lebanon, on Jan 19, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to a statement by Hezbollah, the Shi'ite militant organization, a senior commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammed Ali Allhadadi, was also killed in the airstrike, along with several other Iranian soldiers.

Israel refused to comment on the attack. However, Israeli media outlets quoted military sources as saying the target for the attack was terrorists plotting an attack against Israel.

Throughout Monday, UN peacekeepers ran patrols along the Israeli-Lebanese border to ensure calm in the area despite rising tensions. Peacekeepers have been employed along the border following the aftermath of the 2006 war between the countries.

Although not officially confirmed, it is believed Israel carried out several air strikes against Syria to stem weapons delivery to Hezbollah by Iran, and to respond to the overspill of the Syrian Civil War into the northern Israel.

The latest attack took place in December near the Damascus international airport.

 

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