JERUSALEM — Israel's army is planting new land mines along its border with Syria in an attempt to dissuade protesters from rushing into the Golan Heights, a military magazine reported Friday.
The preparations come as part of Israel's beefed-up measures ahead of rallies that Palestinians are planning to hold in September, the magazine Mahaneh reported.
Israel came under heavy international criticism when its troops opened fire on Syrians and Palestinians who broke through the fenced border into the Golan Heights during a June 5 demonstration. Around 20 protesters were killed. Israel worries that the planned September demonstrations in the West Bank could also see a new attempt to breach the Golan frontier.
The army decided to go ahead with the move after older mines failed to detonate when the Syrians crossed in June, the magazine reported. The mountainous plateau is heavily sown with minefields, which are marked. Military officials have said they are also preparing non-lethal methods for controlling any Golan protests.
"The activities are intended to thicken landed mines and strengthen obstacles," said Maj. Ariel Iluz, according to the magazine.
"Combined with our military forces and snipers, these are supposed to delay or even prevent a lot of people from crossing the border," Iluz said.
The June demonstrators were protesting Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights, a territory it seized in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed. The international community does not recognize its annexation.
The magazine did not say how many mines the army's engineering corps have planted so far, only saying the operation had been continuing for several weeks. An army spokesman was not available for comment.
The magazine reported that the military was taking other measures, including reinforcing fences along the Golan border, increasing infantry troop numbers, posting more snipers and digging trenches.
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