Israeli daytrippers get front row seats to Golan battles

The spot they’ve chosen from which to watch the fighting – a platform overlooking the mountainside – offers a perfect view of the battlefield

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In most places, binocular-toting tourists in shorts, T-shirts and sunglasses tend to admire historic treasures, archaeological sites and natural marvels. Not so in the Golan Heights: Here, Israeli daytrippers allegedly get their kicks out of watching battles raging in Syria.

And the spot they’ve chosen from which to watch the fighting – a platform overlooking the mountainside – offers a perfect view of the battlefield, according to Mail Online.

golan epa
golan epa

Since the conflict erupted some three-and-a-half years ago, Israelis in the Golan Heights have had a relatively safe front row seat as they observe the fighting that has been raging between regime forces and rebels.

Now, however, those battles involve the Islamic States and Syria and the extremist group is within stone’s throw from the Golan Heights border crossing between Israel and Syria.

Furthermore, armed fighters from the Nusra Front and other rebel groups in camouflaged trucks and on foot can sometimes be seen deploying as close as a mere 50 meters from Israeli military outposts and agricultural fields.

“I can see the terrorists at the checkpoint,” Majd Abu Akl, a Druze Israeli farmer, told the Financial Times as he peered through binoculars.

The farmer said black uniforms signified that some of the men were Nusra Front fighters, while ISIS militants could be identified by the group’s black flag on captured U.N. jeeps.

“They'll come at us in the end, I have no doubt,” Yehiel Gadis told the Mail Online.

“The entire Arab world is furious with us,”' added his friend, Yigal Bashan.

The men were among some two dozen daytrippers seekers who stopped at the lookout to observe the fighting.

The Quneitra crossing has already been the scene of clashes between the Syrian government forces and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, and opposition rebels took control of the Syrian checkpoint just weeks ago.

The rebels’ foray into the Golan comes hot on the heels of Israel’s 50-day war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, giving the conflict-weary nation another cause for concern.

Although Israelis in the Golan are accustomed to the sound of battles in Syria’s war, the seizure by rebels last week of the Quneitra has brought the extremists to Israel’s doorstep.

And some locals believe it won’t be long before the Islamic radicals turn their attention toward the Israelis.

“There is a battle for control on the other side of the border; we are watching it carefully,” said Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Defense forces. “So far it hasn’t been pointed in our direction, but we need to be prepared for that day,” Mail Online reported.

It comes as a report of a gathering of “thousands” of ISIS supporters at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has increased concerns that the extremist group's sights are focused on Israel as a future target.

According to the Channel 10 report obtained by the International Business Times, the rally, organized by the Tahrir party (described as ISIS’ “Palestine branch”), took place during a prayer session.