IDF opens Golan arteries after declaring temporary closed army zone

The Israel Defense Forces closed the northeastern part of the Golan Heights to all civilians except residents of the area for a number of hours on Tuesday evening, in response to recent demonstrations by Druze concerned over the fate of their Syrian co-religionists.

Three of the major arteries were reopened at around 9 P.M.

The closure order was valid for one week, but army sources predicted early on that it would be lifted sooner than that. It barred access to the border area from several major intersections in the north to anyone who doesn’t live on the Golan. To enforce it, the military set up checkpoints, inter alia at Sa’ar Junction and West Junction.

The closure order was meant to prevent “gatherings near the [border] fence; it’s not a consequence of the fighting in Syria,” an IDF officer said.

Several Druze demonstrations took place near the border fence Tuesday, and according to the IDF officer, in one case, firecrackers were thrown toward the border, setting off a fire. As a result, the IDF decided to prevent large numbers of civilians from congregating near the border.

On Tuesday morning, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot presided over a special situation assessment on how Syria’s ongoing civil war is likely impact Druze villages near the border. The IDF spokesman, Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz, wrote on his Facebook page that GOC Northern Command Aviv Kochavi had said “The situation in the field is calm, with no exceptional incidents.”

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/news/israel/1.661520

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