Israeli Army on High Alert in Face of Demands to Take in Syrian Refugees

Army bolsters forces in the Golan Heights as representatives of civilian aid ask help in delivering humanitarian assistance to Syrians across the border

Israeli soldiers siting on tanks on the Israeli side of the border with Syria.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The Israel Defense Forces is on high alert as the Syrian Army continues fighting along Israel’s northeastern border. Over the past few days the army has bolstered its forces in the Golan Heights, with an emphasis on tanks, artillery and observation posts along the frontier.

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Anyone driving along the Golan’s main roads can’t miss the tank carriers, but the main concentration of forces is right at the border, so the average hiker or traveler will not notice any significant change.

Along the border, however, one can see the observation posts and the tanks, some with motors idling, at the ready to respond to possible developments. Without a telescope it’s hard to see signs of the fighting in Syria, but from time to time one can hear echoes of the explosions from the battle zones.

Representatives of civilian aid groups, some from the United States, arrived in the area at midday and asked the IDF to help them get humanitarian assistance to the refugees across the border.

These aid representatives were permitted to advance to one of the army positions near Alonei Habashan, where contact was made with IDF forces who brought the food, blankets and toys to a tent encampment that has been set up very close to the border.

The army has prohibited civilians and journalists from approaching the border fence, but from a nearby vantage point one can see that a number of large white tents have been erected; these might be part of the army’s preparations for taking in a limited number of refugees, or could serve as a field hospital that will accept wounded Syrians for treatment in Israel.