Five people, including three children, were injured on Saturday as a result of a land mine explosion in the Mount Avital region, near Kibbutz Merom Golan in the Golan Heights.
An initial investigation revealed that one of the children, an 11-year-old boy, had apparently tripped the mine, sustaining serious injuries to his legs. His sister, 12, suffered moderate shrapnel injuries in the face. A third sibling, a boy, and two adults sustained minor injuries.
Magen David Adom's emergency medical team arrived at the scene and a helicopter evacuated the victims to Rambam and Ziv hospitals.
Rescue services said the victims are a family from central Israel who were hiking in the north. The ground in the area was covered with snow, so the family members may have not seen the signs warning of land mines and accidently entered closed military grounds.
Both children who suffered the most severe injuries were evacuated from the scene while fully conscious. Dr. Eran Talor, a senior Rambam emergency room doctor, said that the boy, Daniel Yuval, suffered serious leg injuries, while the girl, Amit Yuval, sustained minor shrapnel injuries. They are both in stable condition, both breathing with the aid of respirators.
Amit told doctors that "we went to the Golan to see the snow - it was the second time in my life. I remember that there was a big field surrounded with people. We played in the snow, I don't remember anything beyond that." She repeatedly asked the nurses how her brother was doing, and if his injuries were serious.
The family issued a statement following the incident, saying that "the family is now beside our injured loved ones, and we are praying for their well being and speedy recovery. The family members hiked and played in the snow alongside other families who were already there. The area appeared to be entirely open and we are not sure why there was not a clear, visible sign warning hikers not to enter. We must thank the higher power that a bigger tragedy was averted, and that other land mines didn't harm the many families who were playing in the snow at the very same place."
The Israel Defense Forces Spokesperson's Office issued a statement immediately following the event, saying that the IDF regrets the incident and wishes a speedy recovery to the victims.
The IDF statement explained that the area where the land mine exploded was a clearly marked military zone. "It is the IDF's responsibility to provide security, while allowing Israel's citizens to travel safely, even along the borders. The IDF Spokesperson's Office begs the public to heed instructions offered by the security services, and to refrain from entering, for any reason, areas where live fire is engaged, land mines and Palestinian territories," the statement said.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. There are still a few minefields in the area which are fenced off with barbed wire. Reports of people being injured after straying into the zones are rare.
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