Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy—Amos 4:1
For the second time in a few days, I found myself equally immersed in two stories. Again, I concluded that Israel and Russia were cooperating in splitting international attention from their developing wars.*
On March 20, 2014, Hebrew media main story was Russian preparations for occupying additional areas of Ukraine. The day after Syria achieved gains in the Golan Heights, the IDF started a hurried drill which enjoyed an unusual media coverage in real time. The exercise prepares forces for entrance into Syria. “The Post-Communist Empire is born,” I thought and started writing.
IDF’s HaBashan Division Drill
Golan, March 20, 2014
Setting the Desert on Fire
This is the type of article that bothers me. Afterwards, it may be claimed that I contributed to the deterrence effect of the IDF; after all that was the intention of disclosing the military events in the first place by the army. In such cases, I look at the item carefully. Beyond the attempt to scare humanity, is there any additional value in the news?
IDF’s HaBashan Division Drill
The odd chains covering the tank’s neck are a protection against hollow-charge missiles
Golan, March 18, 2014
Setting the Desert on Fire
In this case, the answer was positive. The event confirmed details of the IDF Reorganization Plan Teuza 2013-2014. The reorganization of two massive divisions related to the Golan Heights was clarified, disclosing the extent of their changes and their main intentions.
The current reorganization of the IDF is related in its northern angle to the war against Hezbollah in 2006, and influences the recent violence.
Israel was defeated in Lebanon. The army commander back then was Dan Halutz, an air force officer. It is unusual for a “blue” (someone from the air force in Hebrew slang) to reach such a position.
Halutz held back the “greens” (ground forces) during the operation because he did not trust them and sent the air force ahead. It was a disaster. The fact that in the morning of the attack he found time to contact his broker and sell his stocks in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange did not improve his public image. He left the army humiliated.
Division 366 patch
Another error committed by Halutz was to send Division 366 Path of Fire into Lebanon. The reserve division was led by Brigadier General Erez Zuckerman. He had no experience commanding armored units. He had commanded naval, infantry and special units before this post. He did not pass the customary “Change to Armored Corps” course offered in such cases.
Moreover, the division had not trained since 2001; it was unprepared. Before that, it had always prepared for the Golan Heights; it did not know Lebanon. Yet, Zuckerman begged to be added to the force.
Division 210 patch
After a while, Halutz agreed. Zuckerman was sent into Lebanon as an independent force, unrelated to the three other divisions of the Northern Command attacking there. It was a disaster that contributed much to the analysis of the war as an IDF defeat. Zuckerman’s performance was very poor and he left the army. Division 366 was not Path of Fire, but Path of Shame.
The division was beyond reparation. Last year, after commenting on the announced changes I wrote in Key IDF Rearrangement Announced: “Let me venture a prediction. After the move, the division would change its number. Then, its shame would be hidden, but not forgotten.” That was correct. Division 366 does not exist anymore.
Until now, the IDF had its largest heavy division, Division 36 Volcano, deployed in the Golan Heights. Beyond heavy armored and artillery brigades, it operated two regional brigades controlling the strongholds line following the border. The southern part of the Golan Heights drops sharply towards the Jordan Valley; its tip is controlled by Division 162 from the valley.
Division 36 is strong but not enough to stop the Syrian army. The Syrian artillery placed in the area is enough to wipe out the division in a matter of hours. Thus, a key IDF movement, which was classified until Lieutenant General Gantz made it obsolete, was the rapid deployment of Division 366 from its base near the Haifa Port—through the Golani Junction up the Golan Heights. Not anymore; Division 366 moved.
Hiding the move of Division 366 is impossible. 36 is the largest regular army division; 366 is the largest in the reserve army. Nosy civilians tend to note caravans of tanks atop semi-trailer trucks passing in front of their homes.
A problem that was solved by the move was the possible destruction of the Golani Junction before the reserve division would cross it. Thus, Division 366 was upgraded from a reserve unit to a regional division. Its headquarters were moved to Nafah, formally known as Base Yitzhak, former seat of Divison 36 headquarters.
Placed near Shifon, one of the extinct volcanoes in the area hosting a military base, it is also near Quneitra, where the UN peace keeping forces headquarters are. Now it is known as HaBashan Division, its number was changed to 210, and it was awarded a new patch. Moreover, this would force it to upgrade its preparedness.
Division 36 became one of the five multi-theater divisions of the IDF. Instead of staying on the Golan, as thought at first, it was moved to Naura, near Afula, where a reserve division is stored. This is smart, somebody watching the main gate will have troubles identifying the identity of moving forces. Overall, the IDF chose the cheap path for its reorganization. In the north, it uses existing bases, avoiding placing two heavy divisions on the Golan.
The recent violence in the Golan took place under the command of the new unit.
Naura, new home of Division 36
“It is like Lebanon!”
One of the forces that were passed to the command of the new regional division is Brigade Yiftach, an armored reserve unit. It was called hurriedly to exercise a ground invasion of Syria. The hysterical response to the hit of a jeep two days ago, in which four soldiers were wounded, was accompanied by interviews of Colonel Amir Hamud, the commander of the unit. I cannot remember such an interview while the event is still unfinished.
He said that the event will prepare them to all scenarios including a ground incursion “we are preparing against Hezbollah, the Jihad, the Syrian army, and the rebels. This is like Lebanon in the 1970’s.” “We exercise as far and deep as we can reach,” he added.
Colonel Amir Hamud (r)
Setting the Desert on Fire
“In this event the tasks and plans changed under pressure of time. [the event had been scheduled a long time ago. At the last moment it goal was changed to include occupation of Syria] During the exercise we developed combat methods against the forming challenge in Syria. In order to achieve that we stop along the event, sometimes for 30 minutes to analyze and understand the scenario and how it will develop. Our rate of learning must move ahead of the enemy.”
Never since 1973 the IDF had prepared a massive incursion into Syria.
Much more violence was uttered, including very odd declarations by the Chief of Staff, who claimed while speaking with pupils that the IDF is active in Iran. He did not mean Mossad. From his wording one must deduce that the IDF has soldiers in Iran, though he did not explain.
Enough! Their words matter little. What is behind the new plan?
It is like a lie!
“It is like Lebanon!” Said the colonel and left me laughing. “This is the lie,” I thought. That was the propagandistic item designed to distract the masses busy with the Crimea. “Is it like Lebanon? Then no thanks. Been there, seen that. Crimea is more exciting,” they will say while watching soldiers with no clear allegiance reenacting events from the 19th century.
One crucial difference is that Damascus is a few miles from the border with Israel. The base at the top of the Avital volcano watches over the city with regular optical lenses.
If the IDF enters Syria with ground forces from the Golan, then Damascus and Bashar al-Assad personally,+ are the targets.
By Roi Tov
* Lieberman Conquers Gaza and Russia the Crimea
+ 911 Israel Assassinates al-Assad
& Teuza section of the website: