The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and police are bracing themselves for possible violent protests near the Israeli-Syrian border following US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise the Jewish state’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
“We are preparing for the possibility of tension in the northern Golan Heights,” the IDF said in a statement without elaborating.
The development comes as the Druze, an Arab minority who practice an offshoot of Islam and live in the Golan Heights, rejected US President Donald Trump’s support of Israel’s sovereignty over the area.
“Trump can make his statements and say he wants to make the Golan part of Israel. But we know this will stay Syrian land”, Sheikh Mahmoud Nazeeh was quoted by the Jerusalem Post as saying.
He was echoed by Amal Safadi, who emphasised that his blood is Syrian and that “if you take a blood test for a child, it will read Syrian”.
They spoke after the Syrian Foreign Ministry responded to Trump’s statement by pledging to recover the Golan Heights by “all available means”.
The ministry pointed out that the “confirms the US’s blind commitment to Israel and support for its aggressive behaviour”.
The ministry also noted that the US directly violates international law and a number of UN resolutions, in particular, Resolution 497, in which Israel’s intentions to establish its laws in the Golan Heights are deemed invalid and illegal.
Spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova stressed that changing the status of the Golan Heights in order to bypass the UN Security Council constituted a direct violation of UN decisions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, warned that Trump’s statement on the Golan Heights puts “the Middle East region on the brink of a new crisis” and that “we cannot allow the legitimisation of the occupation” of the Golan.
Iran, in turn, also lashed out at what it described as Trump’s “illegal” and “unacceptable” remarks on the Golan Heights.
On Thursday, Trump tweeted that 52 years on, “it is time for the United States to fully recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and regional stability”.
Israel took control of the Golan Heights in 1967 after the Six-Day War between Israel and the neighbouring states of Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
In 1981, Israel adopted a law extending its jurisdiction over the territory, in a move that has never been recognised internationally and that further worsened Israeli-Syrian ties.