Move aims to prevent "Nakba Day" style border crossing infiltration following Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations.
Anticipating protests following the Palestinian Authority’s declaration of statehood next month, the IDF has planted additional anti-personnel mines along the border on the Golan Heights that it hopes will prevent infiltration into Israel.
The army experienced its first taste of the demonstrations on May 15, when more than 100 Palestinians from Syria crossed into the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.
According to Syrian and Lebanese reports at the time, more than a dozen protesters were killed during ensuing clashes with IDF soldiers along the Syrian and Lebanese borders.
Demonstrations again broke out on June 5 as protesters again tried to cross into Israeli territory. The IDF deployed large forces along the border and prevented an infiltration, but Syrian media reported that 24 people were killed.
In both cases, mines that had been deployed along the border several decades ago failed to work and stop the protesters. In the 1970s, Israel planted two types of mines along the border – known as the “Alpha Line” – anti-personnel mines and anti-tank mines. The anti-tank mines were not expected to work since they usually only detonate after a heavy vehicle rides over them.
Following the two protests, the IDF Northern Command conducted a study of the various obstacles it has positioned along the border and decided to renew the minefields between the barbed-wire fence and the actual border, which is sometimes more than 20 meters from the fence. News of the decision was first revealed in the army’s weekly magazine Bamahane.
According to IDF sources, the older mines had shifted in the ground due to wind and rain, and in some cases became rusty and simply did not work.
While the army predicts that violent demonstrations will break out along all the borders following the expected PA unilateral declaration of statehood on September 20, it is particularly concerned with the Golan border, where it fears that Syrian soldiers will deploy along the border and actively defend men who try to infiltrate the Golan Heights.
The IDF has been training forces for such a scenario. It is expected to deploy troops to prevent a violation of Israeli sovereignty and confront the Syrian soldiers if necessary.
The army has held a number of exercises recently, including drills to enable soldiers to practice how they would respond to a confrontation with Syria.