Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened on Sunday that Israel will respond should stray Syrian ordnance continue to strike the Golan Heights, highlighting international concerns that the civil war in Syria could ignite a wider regional conflict.

"The message has certainly been relayed. To tell you confidently that no shell will fall? I cannot. If a shell falls, we will respond," Barak told Israel's Army Radio, without elaborating.

At the Sunday cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu added that Israel was closely following events along the Syrian border, and was prepared for all possibilities on that front.

The remarks came days after Israel told Syrian President Bashar Assad to rein in attacks on rebels near the Golan, which had been mostly quiet for decades.

A Syrian mortar bomb, one of a salvo, hit an Israeli settlement on the Golan on Thursday but did not explode. Earlier this month, Israel complained to the United Nations after three Syrian tanks entered a Golan demilitarized zone. Israel also said a stray Syrian bullet hit one its army jeeps on patrol.

Israel has tried to stay out of the 19-month-old Syrian insurgency, reluctant to be drawn into another war and unclear about whether a post-Assad Syria might prove more hostile.

But Barak said on Thursday he hoped the rebels would win, Assad would fall and that "a new stage in the life of Syria will begin."

Israel's military chief, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, warned troops on the Golan Heights a week ago: "This is a Syrian issue that could become our issue."

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