Photo: Reuters
Troops near border
Photo: Reuters
Moti Levi
Avihu Shapira
Ruth Elkayam
Avihu Shapira
Haim Safiri
Avihu Shapira
Amir Duvdevani
Avihu Shapira
Golan residents concerned about escalation
Northerners say they are worried about what scuffles on Syrian border might portend

Residents of Alonei HaBashan, a moshav in the Golan Heights, awoke Tuesday morning yet again to the sounds of gunfire and explosions.


A day after a military jeep was damaged by bullet fire from the neighboring Syrian territory, the quiet religious town refused to alter its daily routine, but some residents were fearful of what the future holds.


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"Saturday was not a calm day here," Moti Levi, a resident, told ynet. "Because this is a religious town, Saturday is usually very calm and quiet, so we heard the explosions even louder than usual.


"No doubt this is frightening," he added. "We hear shooting during the day and night. This has been going on for almost a week and a half now. But only when you connect the noise to the images seen in the media, you can begin to understand where it comes from." 
אלוני הבשן, סמוך לגבול. "אנחנו רגילים לרעש" (צילום: אביהו שפירא)

Alonei HaBashan. "We are use to the noise" (Photo: Avihu Shapira) 


Smoke billowed at the heart of the town on Tuesday, but this time it wasn't the result of hostility but rather of a more mundane activity – the local treasury was burning binders it no longer had use for. 


"Our life is no different today than it was two or three weeks ago," said Haim Safiri, another resident. "Our concern for our children or the hour they return from school has not changed. A stray mortar does not trouble me; what troubles me is that this situation could ignite a war."


With the sound of explosions going off in the distance, he added: "At this point we are talking about background noise. IDF training sessions in this area are usually much more raucous. In all honesty I am much more concerned about hitting a wild boar with my car than with the security situation on the Syrian side of the border."


'Precautions must be taken'

Ruth Elkayam, who works as a cook at the local preschool, noted that the residents of the town are used to the noise.


"We are surrounded by a military zone; there are explosions here all the time," she said. "Our life hasn't changed, but we are very much aware that precautions must be taken."


On Monday night, a jeep driven by the Golani Brigade's patrol battalion commander was hit by bullets fired from the Syrian side of the border, near the Tel Hazaka area at the center of the Golan. He was driving along the border fence at the time and was not injured in the attack. The jeep, however, was damaged.


In response to the incident, large security forces were dispatched to the area. The IDF lodged an official complaint with the area's UN forces commander, claiming the event is a breach of the cease fire signed between the two countries.


Amir Duvdevani, a longtime resident of Alonei HaBashan, has been patrolling the hills surrounding the town on horseback for more than 30 years.


"People do not want to think or even imagine that something could happen here, but there is nothing stopping a misguided rocket from falling here," he said. "Just this Yom Kippur, four mortars fell in our apple orchards near Elrom. That was a warning sign, but it was taken away and we did not return fire."


Duvdevani said the local authorities aren't doing enough to keep residents updated.


"On Saturday there was a war not far from here, but people here have no idea what is happening," he said. "Nobody tells people whether they can go up to the hills immediately surrounding the town or whether they may enter this or that area."


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