12:55 GMT +322 July 2019
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    An Israeli soldier stands on top of a Merkava tank near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, on November 28, 2016

    Israeli Army on High Alert in Golan Heights as Syria Intensifies Op in Daraa

    © AFP 2019 / JACK GUEZ
    Middle East
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    Syrian state news agency SANA has reported that militants in a number of towns and villages in Daraa’s eastern countryside have agreed to hand over their weapons and reconcile, thus accepting a deal to return to government control.

    In light of the intensified battles in southern Syria and the country's army's advances towards the Israeli border, the Israel Defense Forces have been put on high alert in the disputed area of the Golan Heights, Haaretz reported.

    READ MORE: US Sends Signal to Moscow by Halting Aid to Rebels in Syria – Israeli Analyst

    While Tel Aviv is said not to be expecting a direct confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army, it is preparing for potential collateral damage or other side-effects from the military’s assault in Daraa province, which is sixty kilometers away from the Israeli border.

    Within this context, the IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot left for Washington on June 28 for brief talks with his US counterpart, Joseph Dunford.

    On July 1, the security cabinet is set to gather to discuss Israel’s preparedness for a potential war along the country’s northern border.

    Reacting to a massive influx of Syrian asylum-seekers in Israel's north, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that even though Tel Aviv wouldn't accept refugees, it was ready to provide humanitarian aid.

    "As always, we will be ready to provide any humanitarian assistance to civilians, women and children, but we will not take in any Syrian asylum seekers," Lieberman's press service cited him as saying.

    According to an IDF statement, aid was transferred to four different sites on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights during an overnight operation.

    The army, which noted dire living conditions in the camps, said that over 300 tents, 13 tons of food, 15 tons of baby formula and three large shipments of medical equipment and clothing had been delivered.

    “The IDF is monitoring the events in southern Syria and is preparing for a variety of scenarios, including continued humanitarian assistance to fleeing Syrians. We will not allow passage of Syrians fleeing the country and will continue to defend Israel's security interests,” read a statement released by the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

    Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six-Day War in 1967 and annexed the territory in 1981. The international community and the UN have not recognized the Israeli annexation, calling the decision to impose Israeli "laws, jurisdiction and administration" over the territory "null and void and without international legal effect."

    Responding to the UN's condemnation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated that Tel Aviv would not retreat to the 1967 lines because they were “indefensible,” adding that the Golan Heights would “remain in the hands of Israel forever.”

    Tags:
    humanitarian cargo, refugee, terror, asylum seekers, alert, asylum, terrorist, defense, operation, humanitarian aid, Six-Day War, Daesh, Israel Defense Forces (IDF), UN, Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, Golan Heights, Israel, Syria
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