2 Israelis injured by cross-border fire from Syria

IDF directs artillery fire at Syrian army post; some 200 rebels including Al-Nusra take Quneitra crossing, engage 100 Syrian army soldiers in town.

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August 27, 2014 19:29
3 minute read.
The Golan Heights

The Golan Heights 370. (photo credit: Seth J. Frantzman)

 
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A Syrian mortar shell struck the northern Golan Heights, lightly wounding a man in a kibbutz on Wednesday.

Magen David Adom evacuated him with a neck wound.

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Earlier on Wednesday, an IDF officer was lightly- to-moderately wounded by errant gunfire emanating from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, where rebels and forces loyal to the Damascus regime are embroiled in a civil war.

The IDF responded to the cross-border shooting with artillery fire directed at a Syrian Army post. “A direct hit on the target was identified,” the IDF said.

“We see the Syrian Army as responsible for all fire into Israel,” an army spokesman said.

There were no immediate reports of injuries on the Syrian side.

The wounded Israeli officer was airlifted to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.

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Between 150 and 200 rebels are fighting around 100 Assad regime soldiers in Quneitra.

The rebels, from al-Qaida’s Syria wing, the Nusra Front, and several other organizations, have taken the Quneitra crossing, but fighting continues in the town.

Security sources said it is likely that fighting will continue, and that the Syrian Army may call for reinforcements.

The sources said the IDF is not a party to the fighting, describing the war “an internal Syrian conflict,” and that the IDF’s only involvement is based on providing humanitarian aid to wounded Syrian civilians, as Israel has done for the past two years.

Earlier on Wednesday, the IDF instructed farmers and civilians to stay away from the border with Syria after intense fighting flared between the Syrian army and rebels in the Quneitra region.

Explosions from the combat in Syria were audible on the Golan Heights. Three errant mortar shells from the fighting hit Israeli territory, damaging a pair of vehicles, the IDF said.

Fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels trying to seize the crossing has often spilled over into Israeli territory during the three-and-half-year civil war.

The IDF has returned fire into Syria on several occasions after mortar shells hit Israeli territory.

The Islamist fighters, who have vowed to “liberate” the Quneitra area, captured the army post on the Syrian side from forces loyal to Assad after fierce clashes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Rebels briefly took the Quneitra border crossing with Israel last year and now control many villages in the area.

Meanwhile, former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said that with the Nusra Front reportedly in control of the crossing, Israel must be very clear about its redlines.

“As in the previous battles between the Assad regime and the rebels, we are not in position to determine the fight or the processes in Syria,” Amidror said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project.

But, he added, “We should be very clear about our redlines: No one will cross the border, and if someone will try, we will kill him.”

Likewise, he said, Jerusalem needs to make it clear that “if someone will use rockets or artillery toward Israel, our retaliation will be immediate, and it doesn’t matter if it will be the Syrian regular army or the rebels. From our point of view there is a very clear redline, and this is the border.

We should not interfere on the other side of the border to save [either] one of the two sides.”

Amidror did say, however, that Israel should “be in a position to help on the basis of humanitarian needs” anyone who was injured.

Israel has established a field hospital on the Golan Heights.

Amidror said that Israel might be the West’s front line in facing the radical Islamic movements.

“It is true about Gaza, relating to Hamas,” he said. “And it might be true about Nusra if they take control on the Golan Heights. The threats of radical Islam are not going to stop on the frontiers of Israel, but the West and the democratic countries and others will have to face it near home sooner or later.”

Many times in history, events and developments began “with Jews, and continue[ d] with others,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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