IDF Northern Command Commander Maj.-Gen. Yoel Strick and Druze Sheikh Muafik Tarif.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Following intensive fighting at Hader on Friday, on the Syrian-held section of Mount Hermon, which resulted in dozens of casualties, the IDF said it is willing to provide assistance and prevent the capture of the Druse village by anti-regime forces.
“In recent hours, we have witnessed intensified fighting in the area of the Druse village of Hader on the Syrian part of the Golan Heights,” IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said.
“The IDF is ready and prepared to assist the residents of the village, and will prevent the harming or conquering of the village of Hader because of our deep commitment to the Druse population.”
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Northern Command commander Maj.- Gen. Yoel Strick and Commander of the Bashan Division Brig.-Gen. Yaniv Ashur were assessing the situation, Manelis added.
A resident of Majdal Shams, in the southern foothills on the Israeli side of Mount Hermon, was wounded by spillover gunfire from the Syrian war.
Manelis also said claims of Israeli involvement and assistance to global jihad elements in the fighting on the Golan Heights are groundless.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is in London to mark the Balfour Declaration centennial, posted a statement on his Facebook page reading: “We guard our borders in the North and the South and maintain our support for our Druse brethren.”
Nine Syrians were killed and about 25 wounded on Friday morning in two terrorist attacks in Hader, which is located 4 km. from the Israeli border, and approximately 15 km. from the Syrian city of Quneitra.
It was reported that the Sunni terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra announced that it was opening a campaign to capture Syrian Golan villages that are under the control of the Assad regime. The organization reportedly stressed that it would not harm the villagers, as long as they did not assist or support the Alawite regime.
Following the deadly attacks, hundreds of Druse residents of Israel gathered at the border to support their relatives on the Syrian side.
A group of Druse men briefly pushed through the security fence, breaching the border, and crossed into Syrian territory before being pursued and corralled back. The situation was then under control.
IDF officials met with Druse community leaders Friday evening to discuss the situation in Hader. Sheikh Muafak Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druse community in Israel, and other Druse leaders said their community against taking online rumors at face value and acting harshly based on false information.
In the meeting, Tarif told Strick that he has “full confidence in you and in the IDF to protect the Druse [people] of Hader and to return things to the way they had been before, without Jabhat al-Nusra control [there].”
Kulanu MK Akram Hasson, a member of the Druse community who lost four family members in Friday’s attack, said there are strong family ties between the Druse who live on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights and those living in Hader.
“Since this [Friday] morning I had held talks with [Druse] community leaders in Hader and top-ranking IDF officers and high officials in the [Israeli] security services, and I hope that a cease-fire will be achieved soon,” Hasson said.
Due to the battles just over the Syrian border, the Israel Police said that, as a part of its general preparations on the Golan Heights, forces were deployed and stationed at major intersections in the North to protect Israeli residents.