BEIRUT

Middle East

Israel steps up readiness on Golan Heights

Israeli soldiers from the paratroopers brigade take part in a drill in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the border with Syria September 9, 2013.(REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

BEIRUT: Israel has sent a new military division to police the Golan Heights border with Syria, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday, in a move officials said was designed to prevent a spillover of violence.

Speaking from the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967, army chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Sunday the changes were “very significant.”

The 210th Division has been training since July to familiarize itself with the terrain near the border so it is ready to counter any threats from its war-torn neighbor, the Israeli daily reported. The departing 36th Armor Division, which has been stationed on the Golan Heights for 40 years, will become a flexible unit, on standby to be sent into combat in Lebanon or Gaza, it added.

The Israeli army is working on developing ways to enter Syrian territory as an additional security measure, security sources told the daily.

“We are ready for every scenario. When the state dials 911, the military will report for duty,” Gantz said.

Israel has been closely watching the crisis unfolding in Syria for some time. Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels working to oust him have sporadically clashed in Qunaitra near Israel’s border since 2012. On Saturday, Assad’s troops recaptured two areas on the edge of the Golan Heights.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 25, 2014, on page 8.

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