IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said that the cross-border exchange of fire between Syrian army forces and Israeli soldiers on Sunday morning emphasized the "volatile situation" prevalent on the Syrian border.
"The shooting at IDF soldiers this morning endangered the lives of our forces, and therefore we were forced to attack and destroy the position from which the fire came," Gantz said.
Gunfire from Syria was directed at IDF soldiers who were patrolling the border on Sunday morning. The
IDF returned fire using a surface-to-surface Tamuz guided missile on a
Syrian army position from which the soldiers were attacked. The Syrian position, a machine gun nest, was destroyed by the return fire.
There were no injuries or damage reported on the Israeli side, the army said.
All work along the security fence to fortify the frontier has been temporarily suspended, the army added.A defense source told The Jerusalem Post, "We
have repeatedly clarified that we cannot accept shootings at our forces,
whether they are accidental or deliberate."
The incident came after an IDF jeep on patrol near the Syrian border was hit by gunfire on Saturday evening.
The army said the shots were fired from Syria, and that it was “checking the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
No one was injured, but the vehicle was lightly damaged.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said Sunday that he took a severe view of the two shooting incidents from Syria in recent hours.
He added that the IDF responded in line with government policy, which holds that "every violation of Israeli sovereignty and firing from the Syrian side will be answered immediately through the silencing of the source of fire when it is identified. We see the Syrian regime as being responsible for all violations of sovereignty. We won't allow the Syrian army or any other element to violate Israeli sovereignty by opening fire at our territory."
Syrian infighting has raged near the border with Israel, which is increasingly concerned Islamist rebels may be emboldened to end the quiet on the Golan front maintained by Assad and his father before him during their four decade rule of Syria.
Rebels on Wednesday overran at least three towns near the Israeli-Syrian disengagement line but appeared to lose ground after militias loyal to Assad pushed them back in a fierce battle.