November 12, 2012
The Israeli military has fired tanks shells into Syria for the second consecutive day after a stray mortar round landed in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. The IDF fired “towards the source of the fire” and confirmed “direct hits.”
The Israel Defense Force (IDF) tanks fired on two Syrian mortar shell batteries in response to the errant mortar shell that landed near an IDF outpost in Hazeka on Monday. The retaliatory strike comes a day after a similar incident compelled the Israeli military to fire a single Tamuz anti-tank missile into Syria.
An Israeli security source told Haaretz daily the IDF had once again fired a Tamuz anti-tank missile with a range of 25 kilometers in the direction of the Syrian army mortar crew that had launched a shell which overshot the Golan disengagement fence. The IDF reported “direct hits,” though no causalities have been reported.
Israel says Monday’s shelling was the sixth incident in a week’s time that the Syrian conflict had spilled over into Israeli territory.
“The IDF has filed a complaint with the UN forces operating in the area, stating that fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity,” the Israeli military said in a statement on Monday.
Sunday’s warning shot was the first time Israel had fired on Syrian territory since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The government of Israel does not believe that Syria is intentionally targeting Israeli territory, but holds Damascus for any attacks originating from its territory.
Just hours before Sunday’s strike, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned Syria that Israel would “respond” if stray shells landed inside the Golan.
On the same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was“closely monitoring what is happening on our border with Syria and there too we are ready for any development.”
Israel recently filed a complaint with the United Nations Security Council after three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone in the Golan earlier this month.
The tanks were reportedly engaged in a battle with Syrian rebels in the village of Beer Ajam, which is located in the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights.
Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967. The country agreed to return the land to Syria in return for a peace agreement. The Arab World rejected the overture following the 1967 Arab League Summit which famously concluded: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Syrian forces crossed the ceasefire line into the Golan Heights in an attempt to retake the territory. Syria’s troops were repelled by Israeli forces.
Israel annexed the Golan in 1981, a move that was rejected by the international community. Israel returned a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control, which is currently patrolled by UN peacekeeping forces.