Israel has decided to re-arm and train teams of illegal settlers in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Hebrew media sources claim that the decision was made in the context of tension between Syria and Israel, which has occupied the strategically important territory since 1967. A UN force monitors the ceasefire agreement.
Settlers, it is reported, have asked for extra training to cope with any possible scenario arising out of events in Syria. In response, the Israeli army will resume military exercises to prepare teams of settlers able to react to attacks.
Syria and Israel have exchanged threats during the past few days following a claim that the Syrians had destroyed an Israeli vehicle with soldiers on board when it crossed the ceasefire line. Israel denied this, claiming that the incident took place on the Israeli side and that a vehicle was hit but not destroyed, with no casualties.
According to Israel’s Minister of Defence his country has a clear policy towards Syria. Moshe Yaalon told reporters, “We do not interfere in the civil war in Syria but with regard to the situation in the Golan Heights, we do not and will not allow the extension of fire on our [sic] land.”
Since the start of the conflict in Syria two years ago, the situation has been tense in the Golan, but incidents such as Syrian shells landing on the Israeli side have been relatively rare. Israeli officials attribute Syrian missiles and shelling to “errors” due to the close proximity of battles between the Syrian Free Army and troops still loyal to President Bashar Assad.