JERUSALEM — Israel intends to reinforce its frontier with neighboring Syria amid growing concerns about the fallout from the Syrian civil war.
Israel plans to erect a new five-meter-high fence on the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967, and fortify it with trenches, barbed wire and a road for army patrols.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that the Syrian army has moved away from the frontier and that what he called "Global Jihad" has moved in. That is a reference to militant Islamists from around the Middle East, including al-Qaida.
Netanyahu said Israel would "defend its border against infiltrations and terrorism."
Israel has stayed out of the Syrian conflict, but recently a number of stray mortar rounds have landed inside Israeli-controlled territory on the Golan, prompting the army to fire back. The incidents raised concerns that the Syrian civil war could spill toward Israel.
But Israel’s biggest concern is that Syria’s chemical weapons could fall into the hands of groups like al-Qaida or Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Netanyahu said “the Syrian regime is very unstable” and the issue of its chemical weapons is a cause for concern. He said Israel is coordinating intelligence with the United States and other allies and is prepared for any scenario.
He did not elaborate, but two months ago, the prime minister told European ambassadors that Israel will do everything to ensure Syria’s chemical weapons do not fall into the hands of terrorists - and that includes “a military option.”