IDF chief to Israelis: It's safe to visit the Golan

Following exchange of fire with Syrian army, Gantz says visitors to North have nothing to fear: "I don't expect an escalation now."

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz tours Syrian border 390 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman Unit)
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz tours Syrian border 390
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman Unit)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Monday reassured Israelis who were planning on visiting the Golan Heights that it was safe, and even recommended to visit the northern region during the Passover vacation.
“We’re here to live,” Gantz said during an Army Radio interview. “The Israeli people need to be strong and calm, and visit the Golan Heights. Clearly, we must and can visit the Golan. I even recommend it highly – it’s quiet, safe and beautiful, and no less important, we must not disrupt the routine of our lives because of one incident or another,” the military chief added.
Gantz made the comments a day after the IDF came under fire from the Syrian army, near the border, prompting it to fire a Tamuz guided surface-to-surface missile at a Syrian army post in response.
The missile struck its target, reportedly wounding two Syrian soldiers at a machine-gun nest. On Saturday night, an IDF jeep sustained light damage from Syrian bullets.
Gantz acknowledged that the situation on the Golan Heights was more sensitive than in other areas, noting that there “are more incidents on the other [Syrian] side. Assad, to our sorrow, is massacring his people, those who are fighting him.
Occasionally, there is an incident, and we deal with it, and contain it on the military level. I don’t expect an escalation now, certainly not an impending one, but in the distant future, who can tell what will happen?”
Addressing Sunday’s exchange of fire with Syrian forces, Gantz said the bullets directed at IDF soldiers endangered their lives, forcing a precise counterstrike that eliminated the source of the danger.
“We’ll continue to operate on the Golan Heights to ensure quiet, in an intelligent and determined manner.
Wherever action is required, it will occur. The IDF is prepared for all possibilities in this area,” he added.
Gantz also repeated his support for the detente with Turkey, saying it was a “very, very big country with very, very significant regional influence. I understand the complexity of the decision... but as I’ve said before, we need to look ahead and serve the interests of the State of Israel.”