For the second day in a row, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) fired back into Syria after what’s being described as an errant mortar shell fired in Syria landed on the Israeli side of the border in the Golan Heights on Monday.
In a statement, the IDF said:
A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an open area in the vicinity of an IDF post in the central Golan Heights, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria, causing no damage or injuries.
In response, IDF soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits.
The IDF has filed a complaint with the UN forces operating in the area, stating that fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity.
Haaretz reports the IDF tanks fired at two Syrian mortar shell positions. As seen in the IDF statement, Israeli military officials believe the shell was not intended for Israel, but is rather part of the ongoing civil strife gripping Syria. Haaretz reports this is the sixth case in just over a week in which Syrian infighting has spilled into Israel.
On Sunday, Israeli officials were emphasizing the military had fired a “warning” shot. Specifically, Israeli media reported the IDF Artillery Corps had launched a precision-guided Tammuz anti-tank missile for that warning which indeed missed its target, a Syrian army mortar crew.
By contrast, on Sunday, the IDF confirmed it had scored “direct hits.” This, perhaps, to send a stronger message to the Syrians.
The Jerusalem Post reports:
The Syrian shell landed near an IDF outpost in Hazeka on the Golan. Army Radio reported that there were no injuries or damage from the shell, which hit as Israel suffered a barrage of missiles from Gaza, putting the IDF in the position of monitoring enemy fire along both the northern and southern borders.
After Sunday's mortar shell exploded, Israel sent a warning message to the UN, saying that any further firing into Israel will result “in a real response.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday called for restraint on both sides. In a statement, he said he is “deeply concerned by the potential for escalation. He calls for the utmost restraint and urges Syria and Israel to uphold the Disengagement Agreement, respect their mutual obligations, and halt firing of any kind across the ceasefire line.”
Sunday was the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War that Israel has fired directly over the border into Syria, a fact the Israeli media covering the story has been highlighting, emphasizing the extent to which Israelis are concerned the Syrian strife could spill beyond the embattled country’s borders.
The Times of Israel writes:
The mortar fire from Syria is widely seen in Israel as constituting errant shells rather than deliberate attacks, but concern is mounting at the potential for casualties. A shell last week fell inside an Israeli moshav, but failed to explode; residents said the consequences could have been disastrous had it done so.
It quoted IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai who said on Sunday: “We have no interest in getting in between the rebels and the Syrian army, but rather to defend the Golan Heights from stray fire.”