Liberman says despite flare-up, life continues as normal in Golan Heights
search

Liberman says despite flare-up, life continues as normal in Golan Heights

Defense minister: Israel ‘not looking for excuses’ to get involved in Syrian fighting, will be ‘very angry’ if peace disturbed

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visit an IDF drill in the Golan Heights on February 21, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot visit an IDF drill in the Golan Heights on February 21, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Monday said it was business as usual in Israel’s Golan Heights, despite the sporadic errant fire from the Syrian civil war that has hit the strategic plateau in recent weeks.

At the weekly Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting, Liberman said he toured the Israel-Syrian border Monday morning, reporting that farmers were still plowing their fields, tourists were braving the hot weather and “the citizens are continuing in their routines, in peace and security.”

He said Israel is “not looking for excuses” to get involved in the conflict across the border, adding that “we will be very, very angry if they disturb this peace and security.”

Over the past week and a half, stray fire from battles in Syria has struck Israeli territory some 16 times, including when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was touring the area last week. There were no injuries or damage caused and the prime minister was not in danger.

The IDF has responded to such fire by targeting Syrian army installations, including in a strike last week that reportedly killed two Syrian soldiers. Israel holds the Assad regime responsible for all incidents originating from the war-torn country.

An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)
An Israeli tourist looks at the Syrian side of the border from Mount Bental, in the Golan Heights, on June 25, 2017.(AFP PHOTO / JALAA MAREY)

Liberman also addressed the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip while speaking Monday, saying the Hamas terror group “in what may be unprecedented, paid out of its pocket NIS 800 million” for power from Egypt. He said Israel has no intention of getting involved, given that it’s an internal Palestinian fight between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, and that even the Gaza residents understand this.

The defense minister’s comments regarding the situation in Gaza came amid recent efforts by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to wrest control of from Hamas, a terror group that has ruled the territory ever since driving out Abbas’s PA forces in a violent coup 10 years ago. The two sides have been at loggerheads ever since.

A recent key development was the PA slashing the amount it pays toward covering Gaza’s electricity bill amid an ongoing power crisis in the Palestinian enclave. At the PA’s request, Israel, which was supplying about 30% of Gaza’s power needs, has begun scaling back electricity. Hamas vowed there would be severe consequences to the move. However, the situation was partially mitigated after Egypt struck a deal with Hamas and agreed to truck in diesel oil to bring Gaza’s sole power station back online.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

read more:
comments