The rare admission came from the Israeli military’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi.
By Erin Viner
While he did not specify a date for the event, describing it only has having taken place “several weeks ago,” Gen. Kochavi appeared to be alluding to an 8 November attack that Iraqi officials at the time said destroyed two fuel trucks.
Seeking to highlight Israel’s qualitative military edge in attaining pinpoint intelligence on attempts by the Islamic Republic to smuggle weapons to its regional terrorist proxies, Gen. Kochavi effectively assumed responsibility for an aerial bombardment on an Iranian convoy that sought to cross the border from Iraq into Syria.
Were it not for Israeli intelligence, Kochavi told a conference hosted by Reichman University, “we might not have known that among the 25 trucks, that was the truck – truck number 8 – that was the truck with the arms.”
“There too, the pilots had to be sent. They had to know how to evade the ground-to-air missiles” in the distant mission, he added, in contradiction of Iraq’s assessment that it had been carried out by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, drones).
“Make no mistake – there are operations in which some 30, 40 – and at the peak, even 70 surface-to-air missiles – that have been launched at them (pilots) during a mission. They have to attack, they have to hit, they have to come back; and they also need, in some of the attacks, not to kill those who don’t need to be killed. These are very, very advanced capabilities. Exceptional abilities. And they allow us to design a strategy,” he added.
A regional official aligned with Iran said two Syrian nationals were killed in the 8 November air strike, while officials at the Iraq-Syria border said they were unaware of any Iranian casualties.
Israel conducts near weekly operations against Iranian smuggling efforts, succeeding in “entirely closing off” most of the air, sea, and ground and ground routes, the IDF Chief went on to say, particularly when it comes to “disrupting the pace” of deliveries to both the Syrians and the Hezbollah terror organization.
The IDF generally refuses to comment on alleged operations against suspected Iranian-sponsored weapons transfers and personnel deployments, although Jerusalem officials have acknowledged mounting hundreds of attacks on Iranian-linked targets in Syria from which the Islamic Republic and its proxies have tried to attack neighboring Israel over the last decade.
Western intelligence sources say Israel’s “shadow war” against Iranian-linked targets inside Syria has escalated over the past year. Research centers for weapons development and munitions depots operated by Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have particularly been in the IDF’s crosshairs.
Turning to the current surge of Palestinian terrorism, Gen. Kochavi acknowledged that any violence perpetrated against Israelis is regarded as a failure that must be learned from despite the success in averting hundreds of attacks.
“To my regret, we have not succeeded in preventing all of the terror attacks. Every attack, in our perspective, from a personal standpoint great sorrow, from a professional standpoint, it is a definition of failure that demands an inquiry, study, improvement,” he said, while pointing out that more that 400 concrete terror attacks over the course of the past year were prevented through joint IDF, Israel Security Agency (ISA, Shin Bet) and Border Police Special Operations Units.
General Kochavi continued by asserting that the IDF has largely succeeded in its operational activity along the northern front with Syria and Lebanon, with the aim of destroying the “vision” of Islamic Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Commander Qassem Soleimani, who was eliminated in January 2020.