Smoke rises following an explosion on the Syrian side near the Quneitra border crossing between the Golan Heights and Syria, August 29, 2014.. (photo credit:REUTERS)
The IDF struck a canon belonging to Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria in retaliation for errant fire from the internal fighting in Syria that spilled over into Israeli territory twice on Saturday, the military confirmed.
The target that was hit is situated in the northern Golan Heights on the Syrian side.
The army’s response comes after a projectile landed Saturday evening in Israel’s northern Golan Heights, believed to be from fighting between the Assad regime and rebel groups near the city of Quneitra.
Less than an hour later, a second projectile hit Israeli territory between Quneitra and the Valley of Tears in what the IDF described as spillover from the Syrian civil war.
No injuries were reported and IDF soldiers were sent to find the projectiles that landed in a “no man’s land” between the border fences of the two countries.
A number of projectiles have landed in Israeli territory due to intensified fighting on the Syrian side of Quneitra as the Assad regime has been exchanging heavy fire with the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other rebels groups. The offensive was launched by rebels in a bid to take control of al-Ba’ath (new Quneitra), which is one of the few towns in the province that remains under the regime’s control.
On Friday the Israel Air Force struck a Syrian regime position on the Golan Heights in retaliation for a projectile that hit earlier in Israeli territory, and on Wednesday another regime position was struck after it was identified as the source of a projectile which struck while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in the Golan town of Katzrin.
“During my speech, shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory and the IDF has already struck back. Whoever attacks us – we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it,” he said.
“We courageously control the Heights, and we know what’s happening beyond the border. Our line is clear – we do not interfere in the happenings in Syria, but we are determined to respond aggressively and powerfully to any violation of our sovereignty. We won’t accept any spillover in the Golan.”
According to a senior IDF official, “the IDF is acting proportionally to prevent any deterioration” and has retaliated against Assad regime positions following the errant projectiles hitting the northern Golan.
According to former deputy commander of the IDF’s Galilee Division, Brig.-Gen. (res.) Nitzan Nuriel, the spillover is due to the direction of the regime’s offensive.
“From a tactical perspective if you are attacking from east to west there will likely be spillover,” he said last week during a conference call with journalists, adding that “if you really want to win, attack from north to south so as to prevent any spillover into Israel.”
Last week the IDF closed the area around the Valley of Tears due to the increased danger of mortar shells.