Northern Israelis Evacuated as Fighting Nears Golan Border; ISIS Said to be Close (VIDEO)
In the Golan, fierce battles between pro-and anti-Syrian government forces close to the border with Israel on Wednesday prompted the army to evacuate residents and tourists from certain areas close to the northern and southern ends of the frontier, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Latest reports from Syria indicate that several hundred fighters of the al-Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front have managed to overtake the southern Quneitra Crossing from Syrian government forces. Israel Radio, however, quoted Syrian sources as saying that the victors were from the more secular Free Syrian Army.
A Syria TV and Iranian Press TV reporter on the Syrian side of the border, speaking with Israel’s i24 News, said ISIS/ISIL personnel were also among those fighting (see video link below).
“…there is huge fighting between the ISIS and the Syrian army, and also the Israeli army. There are three teams … three armies that are fighting now,” according to Hamat Awidat.
He asserted that both ISIS and al-Nusra had been in the vicinity for “a few months,” and said that there were casualties.
Claiming that the strategic situation “was worse than Gaza” for Israel, Awidat charged that ISIL “was a cancer” that would destabilize the region.
Both Israel and Syria have coordinated with the United Nations to use the crossing – the sole connection between the countries – for transferring humanitarian aid and discreet goodwill gestures, including shipping apples grown by kibbutzim and Druze farmers in the vicinity, into Syria.
“From what we know, opposition forces overran the Syrian regime forces on the Syrian side of the Quneitra crossing, some of those including the Al-Nusra Front, which ultimately leave the crossing in the opposition forces’ hands,” IDF Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP.
He says there had been “extensive fighting” on the Syrian side of the ceasefire line since early Wednesday which had resulted in several instances of “errant fire.”
At the northern end of the Golan, a 52-year-old Israeli man sustained minor wounds from a Syrian Army tank shell that was fired at Kibbutz Ein Zivan Wednesday afternoon, Israel Radio said. Several mortars also hit the area throughout the day, according to the report.
Earlier, an IDF medical officer “was moderately wounded as a result of errant fire from the internal fighting in Syria,” according to the IDF, adding that he was evacuated for medical treatment.
“The Israeli officer injured in the Golan Heights by stray fire from Syria earlier today has been transferred by helicopter to Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa,” the hospital said in a statement.
“The 28-year-old IDF military doctor was shot in the chest, but is in stable condition. His wounds are moderate, and he is due to be operated on today,” according to the hospital.
A visitor to Ein Zivan told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that, “since we arrived [0n Monday], we’ve heard booms, the war going on in Syria.
“[Wednesday] morning, it was just one after another after another, I mean, boom, boom, boom,” Josh Hasten, a radio talk show host, said.
An employee at a B&B where they were staying on the kibbutz, told him that outdoor activities for guests were curtailed, apparently, due to “a [mortar] shell that fell in the orchard there.”
“As we were leaving, it was crazy; [security authorities] closed route 98 – they wouldn’t let anyone go north … there were ambulances and firetrucks, and a whole lot of army,” he said.
Watch a video report by a Syria TV and Iranian Press TV reporter on the Syrian side of the border, speaking with Israel’s i24 News:
Video of evacuation of IDF officer in the Golan:
Video of IDF officer medivaced to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center: