Israel has closed a ski resort in Golan Heights fearing retaliation by Iranian-backed groups after the US killed a top Iranian commander. “Following a security assessment, it was decided to close Mount Hermon to visitors today,” an army spokeswoman told AFP.
“There are no further instructions for civilians in the area.” The Golan Heights, which belonged to Syria since 1944, was conquered by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. In 1981, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) adopted the “Law on the Golan Heights”, which unilaterally declared the sovereignty of Israel over the captured territory. The annexation was declared invalid by UN Security Council resolution 497 of December 17, 1981.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on a visit to Greece and in his absence, Defence Minister Naftali Bennett was to chair a meeting of the security cabinet, Israeli media said. The papers reported that Netanyahu had ordered ministers not to comment on the killing.
Earlier, General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport Friday. General Soleimani was apparently on the top-hit list anti-Iran forces and Soleimani himself knew he would be targetted one day.
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, the officials said. Their deaths are a possible turning point in the Middle East and are anticipated to draw harsh vengeance from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests.