Israel retaliates after errant mortar shell falls in Golan Heights

A number of projectiles have landed in Israeli territory due to the fighting between the regime of Bashar Assad and rebel groups.

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April 23, 2018 19:58
2 minute read.
An old military vehicle on the Israeli side of the border with Syria, near Magdal Shams

An old military vehicle on the Israeli side of the border with Syria, near the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights, Israel, February 2018. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

 
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The IDF fired on a Syrian-regime position after a mortar shell landed near the security fence on the northern Golan Heights on Monday, the army announced.

The shell, which hit Israeli territory, is believed to be spillover from fighting across the border in Syria.

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In response, the IDF fired a precision artillery strike on a Syrian military position in the area from which the mortar was fired.

Against the backdrop of tension between Israel and Syria, the head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) arrived for the first time in Israel for an official meeting with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and with Israeli National Security Council members as well as senior IDF officials.

According to an IDF statement given to The Jerusalem Post, Gen. Joseph L. Vote is in Israel “in order to strengthen the connection between the armies and discuss security issues in the region.”

“This is the first time that the CENTCOM commander has visited Israel,” the statement added.

“The IDF views the Syrian regime as responsible for everything in its territory and will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents.”

According to the army, the IDF is acting proportionally to prevent any deterioration; it retaliates against enemy fire by targeting positions of Syrian President Basar Assad’s regime, holding the government responsible for any and all errant projectiles.

No one was hurt in the stray mortar fire, which landed east of the border fence near Quneitra.

A number of projectiles have landed in Israeli territory due to the fighting between Assad’s regime and rebel groups. While these types of incidents have become less frequent in recent months following a ceasefire between Assad and rebels, the Syrian regime is preparing for a new offensive to regain control over the entire Syrian portion of the Golan Heights.


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In the Front Seat With Assad as He Tours Eastern Ghouta, March 19, 2018 (Reuters)

In December, during an offensive just across from Israel’s border, Assad’s army captured the Syrian town of Beit Jinn and the Syrian part of Hermon.

After seven years of deadly civil war that has involved various countries and dozens of rebel and jihadist groups, the regime of Bashar Assad has been regaining more territory with the help of Russian air power and Iranian-backed foot soldiers; it now controls about 80% of the country.

With the war in Syria entering a new chapter, Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced concerns over the growing Iranian presence on its borders and the smuggling of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah in Lebanon from Tehran via Syria, stressing that both are redlines for the Jewish state.

Monday’s spillover comes as tensions have increased between Israel and Iran following an air strike allegedly carried out by the Israel’s air force, killing seven members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

While the IDF is preparing for retaliation by Iran by increasing troop readiness along the northern border, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif denied that Tehran wants conflict.

“I do not believe that we are headed towards regional war,” Zarif told CBS’s Face the Nation, adding nonetheless that “Israel has continued its violations of international law, hoping to be able to do it with impunity because of US support, and trying to find smokescreens to hide behind.”

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