Army to step up effort to mark minefields

The IDF will increase patrols throughout the Golan Heights to ensure that minefields are properly marked and fenced off, officers said on Sunday, a day after two youngsters were wounded, one seriously, by an exploding mine.
The children were playing in the snow on Mount Avital when one of them stepped on an anti-personnel mine. They were flown to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.
The IDF said that there are about 2,000 minefields in the Golan Heights that were placed by Israel to counter a surprise Syrian attack. Some of the mines are anti-personnel and others are anti-tank. Defense officials said that it would cost about $800 million to clear all of the mines from the Golan Heights.
The Golani Brigade operates a special Engineering Corps team that is responsible for maintaining the minefields and ensuring that they are fenced off and signs are in place to warn hikers. There are also some Syrian mine fields from before 1967.
The IDF said that the Northern Command did not plan on clearing all of the mines.
“There are budgetary considerations as well as the lack of manpower,” one officer explained. “There are also operational considerations for why they are there.”
On Sunday, Golan Brigade commander Col. Eshkol Shukran said the armywas investigating the incident. He admitted that there were someminefields where the fences and warning signs needed to be updated andimproved.
“Over the years there is wear and tear due to weather, snow and wind,” he said. “We are working to fix these problems.”
Shukran also said it was important to increase the public’s awarenessof the need to stay out of minefields and to heed warning signs.
“I learned from a young age not to cross fences and it doesn’t make adifference if it is a fence surrounding a minefield or for cattle,” hesaid.