IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said Monday he does not expect an escalation of violence along Israel's border with Syria and urged Israelis to travel to the Golan Heights during the Pesach holiday.
"We can and should visit the Golan Heights – it is peaceful, safe and beautiful. We mustn't disrupt the routine of our lives due to this or that incident," he told Army Radio.
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The IDF chief said that the reality in the Golan Heights "is in fact a bit more sensitive. We see incidents on the other side (of the border). Unfortunately, (Syrian President Bashar) Assad is massacring is people, who are fighting him. Every now and then an incident takes place, and we deal with it at the military level.
"I do not expect any escalation at this point, certainly not in the near future. In the meantime, the people of Israel must remain strong and calm and travel to the Golan Heights, the north, south, anywhere. We are here to live," he added.
Gantz near Syria border (Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office)
Gantz spoke just days after the army fired a missile at a Syrian army position from which shots were fired at IDF soldiers in the Golan Heights. "We have witnessed a difficult reminder of the explosive reality along the border with Syria," the army chief said after Sunday's incident.
"The firing at IDF forces this morning was enough to endanger our forces, which is why we had to attack and destroy the post from which the shots were fired. We will continue to act at this level to maintain peace. The IDF is prepared for any scenario," he said.
During his interview with Army Radio, Gantz also spoke of Israel's apology to Turkey for the deaths of Turkish nationals during the 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound ship. The army chief reiterated his support for the move and mentioned the past cooperation between the two countries.
"Turkey is a very, very large country with very significant regional influence. I am aware of the complexity of the decision, but we must look forward and serve the interests of the State of Israel," he said Monday.
Addressing the issue of equal share of the national burden, Gantz said there are many haredi soldiers who serve in the army, "do a great job and find that serving in the IDF does not make people lose their faith."
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