Golan Officials See Tough Tourism Season If Errant Rockets Continue to Hit

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of the Kinneret as seen from Mitzpeh Ofir in the Golan Heights. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

What was at first believed to be a rocket explosion in the northern Golan turned out to be an errant bullet that hit a land mine next to a U.N. peacekeeping force camp. But a closed military area order imposed by the IDF on areas near the border with Syria was still in effect, in the wake of rocket explosions on Shabbos and Sunday — the result of errant rocket fire from the fighting between Syrian army and rebel groups on the Syrian side of the Golan border.

The IDF order, and the increased tension between rebel groups and Syrian army units and their Hezbollah supporters, couldn’t have come at a worse time, as far as the many residents of the Golan who depend on tourism are concerned. Even when there are no errant rockets or bullets hitting Israeli territory — which is actually the usual situation — the sounds of war are quite prominent, and get louder as one gets closer to the border. That, say members of the tourism industry, is not conducive to the family-friendly image they are trying to put forth in order to attract visitors.

Tourists who were visiting the Golan Monday and were interviewed by Yediot Acharonot for the most part said that they felt safe, and that most would recommend to their friends to visit as well. With that, several said that they would not come back themselves, as the tension interfered with the atmosphere of vacation they were seeking.

Officials said that the situation was still on a “low flame,” and that if the phenomenon was nipped in the bud, it would probably not have a major impact on tourism over the summer. “If this continues, though, we are going to have a tough time this summer,” said one bed-and-breakfast owner.

Golan hoteliers and bed-and-breakfast owners reported this week that there had been some cancellations in the wake of the errant rocket fire, the Yediot report said, with several complaining that since no emergency situation had been declared, they were not eligible for compensation from the state —— even though it was political issues that were harming their businesses.