Despite Fear of Iranian Revenge Over Syria Strike, Schools Run as Usual in Israel's North

Israeli army spokesperson says several tourist spots will be closed, field trips will be coordinated with security forces

Israeli soldiers walk near mobile artillery units in the Golan Heights, Israel May 9, 2018
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Schools are functioning as usual in northern Israel on Wednesday despite tensions along the Syrian border following the airstrike attributed to Israel, according to Israeli army spokesperson. The Israeli army has ordered to open bomb shelters in parts of Israel's north. The Education Ministry cancelled all field trips planned for the Golan Heights.

Following situation assessments in the north, in which it was decided to close several tourist spots, the call was made that civilian life should continue as usual, especially schools and farming, Israeli army spokesman said. Field trips by schoolchildren planned for today are also taking place as usual, in coordination with the Israel Defense Forces, added the spokesperson.

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The Golan regional council confirmed that schools and transportation for kids are functioning normally. “The people in the Golan are experiencing tense days, but we are a united, strong community and will continue our routine even during emergency,” the council stated.

On Tuesday night, Syria accused Israel of striking a military base serving Iranian forces south of Damascus. Sources said Israeli air force jets hit missiles that were aimed at Israel for use in retaliation against Israel following the attack on the T4 airbase in Syria, in which seven members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps were killed.

This came after the Israeli army said it identified unusual movements by Iranian forces in Syria on Tuesday and assessed that Iran was poised to begin its retaliation – hence the order in Israel’s north to open public shelters. Various assessments suggest that if Iran does strike back at Israel, it will target a military installation.

At least nine fighters loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad were killed in the Tuesday night strike, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It was recently reported that eight Iranians were killed in the strike.

According to the official Syrian news agency, the casualties also included two civilians. It also said that Syria had intercepted two Israeli missiles fired at the army base in the vicinity of Al-Kiswah, a city near Damascus.

Despite the tensions, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew out to Moscow Wednesday morning, as planned. He will be meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the nuclear agreement with Iran and to impose new sanctions on Tehran. Netanyahu and Putin are also expected to discuss the mounting tensions in Syria and Lebanon.

Before taking off, Netanyahu stated that given current events in Syria, sustaining coordination between Israel and the Russian forces in the area must be assured.

Earlier Tuesday the U.S. published a travel advisory for the Golan Heights. “Due to the recent tensions in the region, until further notice, U.S. government employees are required to obtain advance approval if they wish to travel to the Golan Heights,” the warning on the website read.

U.S. government employees were asked to “maintain situational awareness” and monitor media to be up to date with the situation on Israel’s Northern front. They were further encouraged to visit the website of Israel’s Home Front Command for guidance.