The IDF, bracing for an increased threat of rocket attacks along the border with Syria, has begun installing air raid sirens and fortified safe zones in all its bases on the Golan Heights.
“The goal we set for ourselves is to provide warning and physical protection to every soldier,” Maj. David Ben-Gigi, the deputy engineering officer for the Golan Heights division, told the IDF’s website.
Ben-Gigi said that the project stems from the military’s understanding that “in the future the enemy in the area will adopt the curved trajectory fire as part of his offensive tactics.”
He estimated that each base will be equipped with its own warning system, operated by the air force, within three months.
The string of forts marking Israel’s eastern border, he said, were already equipped with enough fortified positions, but the large bases, on which the majority of the soldiers live, “required a significant upgrade.”
The Golan has come under fire on multiple occasions since the beginning of the civil war in Syria. Syrian tank shells, artillery rounds and bullets have crossed into Israel. Often the fire has been deemed accidental and Israel has not responded. But on at least five occasions, soldiers in the field felt the fire was directed at them and responded with direct fire.
On December 6, an explosive device was detonated alongside an IDF vehicle in the northern Golan Heights. An IDF investigation concluded that the blast was the first ambush laid for IDF soldiers on the Israeli side of the border since the beginning of the war. No organization took credit for the attack.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, touring the area in early December after a Syrian soldier opened fire on Israeli paratroopers, said, “Our sovereignty will not be violated. Whoever tries to violate our sovereignty will be harmed, whether it’s a soldier, a cannon position, a mortar or a machine gun. We’ll keep up with what we’ve been doing so far.”
The IDF is close to completing a deeply entrenched 15-foot-high border fence in the area equipped with a “multiple-sensor system” – a newly operational mechanism that synchronizes an array of radar and optical findings into one concrete warning. That, along with a sharp upgrade in the caliber of the troops posted to the region and the increased safety against rocket attack, is part of the IDF’s realignment in light of the war in Syria and the instability it has brought to the region.