Errant Syrian mortar explodes in Golan Heights

Defense minister says Israel will react to shellings, warning Damascus to reign in attacks on rebels near Golan.

Israeli soldiers in the North 370 (photo credit: Nir Ellias/Reuters)
Israeli soldiers in the North 370
(photo credit: Nir Ellias/Reuters)
A mortar shell fired from Syria exploded in the Golan Height on Sunday, not far from Moshav Alonei Habashan, where a similar shell exploded on Thursday.
The IDF believes the shell, which caused no damage or injuries, was an errant by-product of Syrian in-fighting near the border.
Just hours earlier, Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened that Israel would 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 said, without elaborating, in an interview with Army Radio.
At the Sunday cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel was closely following events along the Syrian border, and was prepared for all possibilities on that front.
Israel told Syrian President Bashar Assad on Saturday to rein in attacks on rebels near the Golan, which had been mostly quiet for decades.
The Thursday mortar at Moshav Alonei Habashan was one of three Syrian mortar shells that struck the Golan that day, marking a significant deterioration of security conditions along the border.
“We believe these are stray shells, fired in the midst of internal Syrian fighting,” an IDF spokeswoman said.
No one was injured in the incident, which follows other stray shootings, including Syrian bullets that struck an IDF jeep on patrol last week.
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said Israel needed “nerves of steel” to deal with the instability in Syria. He added that there was nowhere for Israel to respond, due to the chaos over the border.
The incidents “require a level-headed response from Israeli authorities,” Dichter said.
Yaakov Lappin and Reuters contributed to this report.