IDF chief: Era of quiet on Golan border is ended

Thursday, April 18, 2013 |  Aviel Schneider

"The 40 years of quiet on the Golan Heights are over," said Israeli Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz during Israel's Independence Day celebrations on Tuesday.

Gantz explained that in light of numerous recent cross-border attacks from forces participating in Syria's ongoing civil war, "we are preparing our borders in the north with advanced and tactical obstacles, but we are also aware that we can be attacked from the air."

Israel's new minister of defense, Moshe Ya'alon, added that both Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon are preparing for war with Israel. "Hezbollah and Hamas have brought in tens of thousands of rockets of various types and are just waiting for the right circumstances to fire them at Israel," Ya'alon said during an Independence Day ceremony in Herzliya.

One of the signs that things are changing on the Golan - for decades Israel's quietest border - is the behavior of the UN forces stationed there since the Yom Kippur War as observers and peace keepers. Following several assaults on UN personnel, the world body is ready to pull its people out, rather than do their job preventing a border flare-up.

Meanwhile, Israel is preparing for the day after the fall of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, with the expected eruption of chaos and the likely withdrawal of the international force meant to separate warring Syrian factions from the Israeli army.

This situation together with ongoing instability in Egypt means Israel is facing a strategic shift in the Middle East, and both Ya'alon and Gantz emphasized that Israel is preparing for the worst.

* PHOTO: IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz (left) and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, himself a former IDF chief of staff, discuss the threats facing Israel.

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