For the first time, Iranian forces attacked Israel's military on Thursday, lobbing 20 missiles from Syria toward Israeli positions in the disputed Golan Heights region.
According to the Israeli military, minimal damage was done and no casualties were reported, as the country's Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted several of the rockets.
But the Syrian news agency reported that Israel had fired first on the town of Quneitra.
Tensions have escalated between the two countries in recent days as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exposed intelligence alleging that Iran had lied about its nuclear weapons program. Roughly one week later, President Trump announced that the U.S. would be pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
An analyst at International Crisis Group, Ofer Zalzberg, said, "U.S. withdrawal had accelerated the escalation between Israel and Iran. Iran faces less restraint in terms of the timing for retaliation."
In response to Iran's missile assault, Israel sent jets to attack Iranian positions in Syria, including the Mezzeh airbase in Damascus. A poll conducted by Israel's Hadashot news channel on Wednesday showed that 62 percent of Israeli citizens believe war is imminent.
Former White House coordinate for arms control and weapons of mass destruction Gary Samore said, "Iran will retaliate through proxies, sooner or later, against Israeli military sites in the north." But Samore added that neither Iran or Israel is interested in a full-on war.
Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani, is reportedly still hoping to preserve the nuclear deal with other world powers in spite of the U.S. backing out. Netanyahu, in turn, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday, which was seen as an effort to reduce tensions between Israel and Iran — Russia supports Iran's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Following a 10-hour visit with Putin, Netanyahu reported, "I think that matters were presented in a direct and forthright manner, and this is important. These matters are very important to Israel's security at all times and especially at this time."
President Trump has also spoken forthrightly regarding Iran in recent days. After announcing America's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, he warned: "I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program. I would advise them very strongly. If they do there will be very severe consequence."