The Israeli military was on high alert Tuesday along the border with Lebanon and Syria for fear of retaliation against an airstrike that killed six Hezbollah militants and an Iranian general.
The alert level was raised overnight. Israel boosted forces on its side of the Golan Heights and stationed a mobile Iron Dome missile defence battery near the border with Lebanon, Israel Radio reported.
A military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv would neither confirm nor deny the steps.
On Sunday, Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh and five other militants from the Lebanese Shiite movement were killed in a rocket attack – blamed on Israel – on their convoy in Quneitra on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights.
Jihad Mughniyeh was the son of Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh, slain in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus, which the group also blamed on Israel.
Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that it carried out the airstrike. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel had the right to defend itself against militant groups plotting against it “wherever it is needed.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet his security cabinet later Tuesday.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has vowed revenge at the “right time and place” of its choosing.
Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that Mohammed Ali Allahdadi, a senior officer in the elite Revolutionary Guard, was among the dead in the Golan strike.
His death pointed to Iran’s presence on the Syrian side of the Golan.
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, condemned what Tehran termed the “assassination” of resistance fighters by “the Zionist regime.”
“The experience of the past shows that the resistance current will give a crushing response to the Zionist regime’s terrorist moves with revolutionary determination and in due time and place,” Shamkhani was quoted as saying by Fars.
Israeli military chief of staff Benny Ganz said late Monday that “we are of course prepared, following any development and ready to initiate and or act whenever needed.”
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is expected to give a speech on January 25 following the attack, which the movement was also investigating.
As Safir daily reported that Nasrallah was scheduled to address his supporters on the older Mughniyeh’s seventh death anniversary on February 16. But he is now likely to appear during a ceremony on Sunday.