Israel issues warning over fire from Gaza, Golan
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the occupied Golan Heights shows smoke after shells allegedly exploded in the Syrian village of Hadar, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria on March 20. A mortar shell fired during fighting between Syrian forces and rebels landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on April 2, military sources said. AFP photo
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon warned Wednesday that Israel would respond to any attacks on its territory and would not allow its civilians or armed forces to come under fire "in any form".
His warning came after Gaza militants during the night fired a rocket into southern Israel and Syrian mortar and small-arms fire hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan heights.
"We shall not allow in any form the establishment of a routine of sporadic firing on our civilians or on our forces," Yaalon said in a statement.
Israel, Syrians, trade fire across ceasefire line
An Israeli tank fired into Syrian territory on April 2 night after Syrian mortar and small-arms fire hit the Israeli-occupied sector of the Golan heights the military said.
An Israeli army statement said troops "returned precise fire at the source and reported a direct hit." In response to a query from AFP a spokeswoman said it was an Israeli tank that returned fire. She did not give further details. There were no Israeli casualties from the Syrian fire, the army said.
A spokeswoman said the incidents were reported to UN ceasefire monitors in the area. Last week Israeli troops on the strategic plateau fired an Israeli-made Tamuz anti-tank missile at a Syrian army post after coming under fire twice in 12 hours.
It was not clear in any of the cases whether the shooting was from the Syrian army or from rebel forces in the area.
Last November, gunfire from Syria prompted troops to respond with artillery in the first instance of Israeli fire at the Syrian military since the 1973 Middle East war.
Israel is closely monitoring its border with Syria amid fears jihadist elements from among the rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad might attempt to attack the Jewish state.
Yaalon repeats warning
Earlier on April 2, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon repeated a warning to respond to every instance of fire from the Syrian-held side.
"Whether it's aimed at our territory or not we respond to silence the source of fire, as happened last week," he told reporters during a visit to the Golan.
Yaalon went on to reiterate Israel concerns that Syrian government stocks of chemical or other weapons which could pose a threat to the Jewish state might fall into the hands of militant jihadis among the rebels.
"We have acted and will act in order not to all such weapons to reach irresponsible groups," he said. Israel seized the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognised by the international community.
Since 1974, the UN's Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has been monitoring the Syrian side of the armistice line with a force of 1,200 troops, although its number has recently dropped to 1,000.