IDF plants new anti-personnel mines on Syrian border

August 15, 2011
Sarah Benton

IDF planting mines at Syria border before September
By Yaakov Katz

Move aims to prevent “Nakba Day” style border crossing infiltrations following Palestinian declaration of statehood in the United Nations.

Anticipating protests following the Palestinian Authority’s declaration of statehood next month, the IDF has planted additional anti-personnel mines along the border on the Golan Heights that it hopes will prevent infiltrations into Israel.

The army experienced its first taste of the demonstrations on May 15, when more than100 Palestinians from Syria crossed into the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

According to Syrian and Lebanese reports at the time, more than a dozen protesters were killed during ensuing clashes with IDF soldiers along the Syrian and Lebanese borders.

Demonstrations again broke out on June 5 as protesters again tried to cross into Israeli territory. The IDF deployed large forces along the border and prevented an infiltration, but Syrian media reported that 24 people were killed.

In both cases, mines that had been deployed along the border several decades ago failed to work and stop the protesters. In the 1970s, Israel planted two types of mines along the border – known as the “Alpha Line” – anti-personnel mines and anti-tank mines. The anti-tank mines were not expected to work since they usually only detonate after a heavy vehicle rides over them.

Following the two protests, the IDF Northern Command conducted a study of the various obstacles it has positioned along the border and decided to renew the minefields between the barbed-wire fence and the actual border, which is sometimes more than 20 meters from the fence. News of the decision was first revealed in the army’s weekly magazine Bamahane.

According to IDF sources, the older mines had shifted in the ground due to wind and rain, and in some cases became rusty and simply did not work.

While the army predicts that violent demonstrations will break out along all the borders following the expected PA unilateral declaration of statehood on September 20, it is particularly concerned with the Golan border, where it fears that Syrian soldiers will deploy along the border and actively defend men who try to infiltrate the Golan Heights.

The IDF has been training forces for such a scenario. It is expected to deploy troops to prevent a violation of Israeli sovereignty and confront the Syrian soldiers if necessary.

The army has held a number of exercises recently, including drills to enable soldiers to practice how they would respond to a confrontation with Syria.

IDF writing doctrine on containing border marches
By Yaakov Katz

Operational guide is not connected to Nakba Day riots, IDF Ground Forces Command says; military-wide seminar to be held in coming weeks.
The IDF Ground Forces Command is in the final stages of completing a new operational doctrine for containing so-called peaceful anti-Israel marches, and in the coming weeks will hold a military-wide seminar to prepare commanders for an increase in demonstrations ahead of the Palestinians’ unilateral declaration of statehood in September.

The work on the doctrine began several months ago, and is not connected to the results of the Nakba Day riots that broke out along the Syrian border on Sunday, leading to the infiltration of some 100 Syrians into Israel.

The work is being done by Brig.-Gen. Miki Edelstein, the IDF’s chief infantry and paratroop officer. The decision to write a new IDF doctrine – which dictates the way commanders are supposed to counter and contain violent protests and marches – was made amid concern that Israel will face a growing number of demonstrations in the coming months, particularly following UN recognition of Palestinian statehood at the General Assembly in September.

“The whole idea in incidents like these is to know how to confront the people marching as unarmed – if they really are – and to do everything possible to prevent casualties on both sides,” Edelstein told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.

The plan has been approved by Deputy Chief of General Staff Yair Naveh. The Ground Forces Command has received a special budget to purchase new riot control and crowd dispersion equipment to forces confronting the demonstrations.

Work on the new doctrine will be completed by mid-June, and will be followed by a live exercise meant to simulate large-scale demonstrations and borderline marches to prepare soldiers for such a scenario.

“This doctrine will be relevant for mass marches with the aim of containing them,” he said.

In addition to standard riot gear like tear gas, rubber bullets and protective equipment, the IDF is also purchasing new technological systems such as the “Scream,” a device that emits penetrating bursts of sound that leave protesters dizzy and nauseous; as well as the “Skunk Bomb,” which contains a foul-smelling liquid sprayed on protesters.

Some of these devices have been used to disperse anti-security barrier demonstrations in the past in the West Bank.

According to Edelstein, a large emphasis will be placed preparing soldiers to withstand the pressure during demonstrations and not resort to violence.

“A large part of this is being prepared mentally so soldiers will know how to restrain themselves,” he said

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