Middle East

Israel attacks Syrian position after mortar lands in Golan Heights

Israel said it attacked a Syrian military position on Wednesday after a stray mortar shell from fighting in Syria’s civil war landed inside the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

The Israeli military said the Syrian shell hit an open area in the northern Golan Heights, causing no injuries, and in response, the army “targeted the Syrian military position that fired the mortar”.

Israel’s strike was in the village of Samadanieh al Sharqiyah in Quneitra province, close to territory where rebels have been engaged in heavy clashes with the Syrian army for the last week, Lebanese broadcaster al Mayadeen and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The mortar fell while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting Katzrin, a town in another part of the Golan Heights about 20 km (12.5 miles) from the area that has experienced most of the recent stray fire from Syria.

“While I was speaking, I said here that we will not tolerate errant shooting and we will respond to all firing. During my speech, there was errant fire from the Syrian side that landed in our territory and the army has already attacked,” Netanyahu said.

“Whoever attacks us, we attack them. This is our policy and we will continue to implement it.”

There has been an increase in such fire from fighting in Syria hitting the Golan in the past few days. On each occasion Israel has responded by targeting Syrian army positions.

Israel has largely stayed on the sidelines of Syria’s civil war, keeping watch over the Golan Heights frontier and occasionally carrying out air strikes or returning fire if there is a specific threat.

Israel captured the Golan, a strategic plateau, in the 1967 Middle East war.

Reporting by Ori Lewis; and Suleiman al-Khalidi; editing by Andrew Roche; Reuters

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