Israel ramps up security along Syria frontier as bloodshed spirals
JERUSALEM - Israel on Thursday reinforced security along its ceasefire line with Syria in the occupied Golan Heights as fighting between rebels and President Bashar al-Assad's regime intensified, Israeli security sources said.
With the clashes spreading across the Syrian side of the strategic plateau, Israeli troops were put on "very high" alert, an Israeli source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"The Israel army is reinforcing the fence between Israel and Syria, by adding more barbed wire," he said, indicating that it was motivated by "fears that refugees from the Syrian side could cross it."
"They are also digging all kinds of holes on the ground with bulldozers to prevent vehicles from coming in," he said.
Without giving numbers, he said a large number of soldiers had been transferred to the plateau to be on hand if the situation took a turn for the worse.
"The state of alert is very high. A lot of soldiers have been moved to the area, officially for training, but they will be there if anything big happens," he said.
"There are also more planes and more snipers."
A second security official confirmed the move to reinforce the ceasefire line but said it was motivated by fears that militants could use the chaos to try to infiltrate Israel.
"The army is strengthening all the infrastructure at the border in case terrorist groups want to destabilise the quiet at the border," he said, also speaking on condition of anonymity.
He denied the move was linked to fears that the Golan could be flooded by thousands of Syrian refugees, insisting that Israel would help anyone whose life was in genuine danger.
"If they are refugees whose life is in danger, we will offer them temporary shelter," he said.
In May 2011, 14 people were killed when thousands of protesters in Syria and Lebanon tried to force their way across the fences into northern Israel, prompting the Israeli military to open fire.
A similar attempt by Syrian protesters a month later -- which resulted in what Israel said was 10 deaths, but Damascus claimed was 23 -- prompted the military to take steps to reinforce the ceasefire line.