By Carmit Madar –
Tazpit News Agency –
On the Syrian side of the border an intense civil war is being waged. On the Israeli side the summer and vacation season has commenced in its full splendor. The Israeli-Syrian border has been the most peaceful for decades, but over the past two years there have been some incidents of the Syrian war spilling into the Israeli side. Israel has boosted its forces in the Golan and has renovated the security fence. The IDF is monitoring the events on the other side, keeping track of the various fighting factions.
Dalya Amos, spokeswoman for the Golan Regional Council, explained to Tazpit News Agency about the constantly developing security situation and its implications on life in the Golan. She points out that Assad still has control of most of central areas in Syria, and is organized for long term warfare. The rebels are a diverse group with no central leadership or combined strategic plans. They collaborate on a local and limited basis. The Kunetra passage, the only border crossing between Israel and Syria is of strategic importance to Assad because of the alleged connection it signifies to the Druze of the Golan, and therefore he has been fighting vigorously for control of the area.
The fighting does, rarely, affect life in the Golan. During one of the battles in the Kunetra area a part of the Golan was shut down for a few hours. Amos stresses that the affect of the war is primarily one of public relations. Israelis follow the news and are frightened by it, but the residents of the Golan carry on with their lives, experiencing the wonders of summer in the Golan. Yesterday some 25 mortars fell in the Golan. The IDF’s instructions were to continue on as usual. During my visit in the Golan last week a mortar shell exploded on the Syrian side, but no alarm was registered. A few moments later people were again relaxing. Together with this, one can sense that something has changed. There is a new sarcastic jargon. When talking about the berry picking, they related to it as an ‘explosive crop’.
Over the past decade the Golan Heights has gone through a process of relabeling and development, especially in the sphere of tourism. Its residents carry on with their daily routine, with the knowledge that things can change drastically. There is awareness about the shaky situation and preparations have been made for an event of the security situation deteriorating.
The question remains – does the opening of the new Volcanic park, a geological site at the base of a thousand–year-old volcano, signify a new chapter in the Golan’s stormy chronicles, or does it signify a calming and cooling down? Time will tell.