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Defense Ministry detonates Syrian munitions from decades-old Golan Heights bunker

National mine-clearing organization found the various bombs in an underground bunker in November, decided to blow them up for safety instead of moving them

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

The Defense Ministry’s mine-clearing outfit detonated hundreds of pieces of Syrian munitions on Sunday that were found recently in a bunker that had been abandoned following the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria, the Defense Ministry said.

The bunker was uncovered in November, with hundreds of pieces of ordnance inside, including “mortar shells of different calibers, flares, pyrotechnic munitions, explosives, hunting rifle ammunition and other types inside their original packages or spread out,” the ministry said at the time.

The Mine Action Authority, which led the effort, decided to detonate the munitions on site — instead of moving them to a blast site — out of safety concerns. In total, the various explosives weighed hundreds of kilograms.

As a safety measure, the authority closed off the surrounding areas and roadways during the blast.

The bunker was uncovered and the munitions inside were detonated as part of an ongoing campaign by the Defense Ministry’s Mine Action Authority to open more and more parts of the Golan to hikers and tourists.

The bunker was found in an area of the western Golan that held a Syrian outpost, known as al-Murtafa, which was used by the Syrian military to shoot at Israeli communities in the Hula valley below prior to the war. The area is now home to the Mitzpeh Gadot memorial to the Alexandroni Brigade.

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