(photo credit: Reuters)
Three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights on
Saturday afternoon, and remained there for several hours into the
The IDF was waiting for the United Nations’ Disengagement Force
on the Golan Heights to oversee their withdrawal.
The tanks, which were
involved in heavy clashes with Syrian rebels, encroached the decades-old
cease-fire agreement between Jerusalem and Damascus.
The vehicles entered
Be’er Ajam, a Circassian village in the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan
Heights that is close to an IDF position on the border. Earlier on Saturday,
locals near the Syrian border reported hearing heavy exchanges of fire between
the Syrian army and rebels.
Israel lodged a complaint with the UN over
the ceasefire violation. The defense establishment has concluded, however, that
the movement of tanks was linked to the Syrian civil war, and not intended as an
act of aggression against Israel.
Nevertheless, the IDF raised its alert
level in the Golan Heights region.
The Northern Command has been on the
lookout for such a development since Syrian infighting approached the Israeli
border several months ago. The Northern Command remains committed to a policy of
zero-tolerance to challenges to Israeli sovereignty from Syria.
October, the IDF evacuated tourists
from the top of Mount Hermon after sighting
dozens of Syrians – many of them with guns – in civilian clothing approaching
The suspects, who may have been rebels, did not infiltrate
the border, and stopped their approach to the fence some 500 meters away from
the international boundary.
The border with Israel has not been the only
frontier affected by Syrian infighting.
In October, Turkey’s military
inside Syria in response to a mortar bomb fired from Syrian
territory that killed five Turkish civilians, while Syrian forces and rebels
at several sites close to the Turkish border.
The IDF’s Military
Intelligence has provided a gloomy forecast for the border after President
Bashar Assad’s downfall, concluding that radical jihadi groups will raid
abandoned Syrian army bases, stock up on weapons, and turn their sights to the
The Northern Command has been preparing itself for such a