Israel fires warning shots into Syria: army

Israel fires warning shots into Syria: army

JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Israel fires warning shots into Syria: army

AFP photo

Israeli troops fired warning shots into Syria on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement, in what public radio said was the first Israeli fire directed at the Syrian military since the 1973 war, AFP reported

"A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an IDF post in the Golan Heights adjacent to the Israel-Syria border, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria. In response, IDF soldiers fired warning shots towards Syrian areas," the army said in a statement.

Israel ready for any Syria development: Netanyahu

Israel is "ready for any development" on the Syrian border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today shortly before a mortar round from Syria landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

"We are closely monitoring what is happening on our border with Syria and there too we are ready for any development," he told his ministers at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Shortly after Netanyahu's remarks, Israeli security sources said a mortar round fired inside Syria exploded in the Golan.

Israel seized the territory from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community.

Sunday's mortar hit, the latest in a string of incidents in which fire has spilled from Syria across the ceasefire line, was near the town of Alonei Habashan, causing no casualties or damage, the security sources said.

On Thursday, three stray mortar rounds from Syria hit the Golan, prompting deputy prime minister Moshe Yaalon to warn Damascus that Israel would act to defend its sovereignty if fighting continued to spill over.

"We see the Syrian regime as responsible for what is happening along the border," said Yaalon, a senior cabinet minister and former armed forces chief of staff.

"We know how to defend the citizens and the sovereignty of the State of Israel." On Monday, an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the buffer zone was hit by gunfire, with the army acknowledging it was caused by "stray bullets." No one was wounded but the incident prompted an Israeli complaint to the United Nations Security Council in which it described the gunfire as a "grave violation" of a 1974 agreement on security in the buffer zone.

Two days earlier, three Syrian tanks entered Bir Ajam village, five kilometres southeast of Quneitra, in the demilitarised zone, sparking another Israeli complaint to the UN.

Since Israel and Syria signed the 1974 disengagement agreement, a 1,200-strong unarmed UN force has patrolled the buffer zone.

Israel 'prepared to escalate' over Gaza violence: PM

Israel is "prepared to escalate" its response to a flare-up of violence along its border with the Gaza Strip, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned today, AFP reported.

"The world must realise that Israel won't sit by idly in the face of attempts to attack us. We are prepared to escalate our actions," he said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting.

His comments came after more than 12 hours of violence along Israel's border with Gaza, sparked when militants Saturday evening fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli jeep east of Gaza City, injuring four soldiers, one of them severely.

Retaliatory Israeli air strikes and shelling during the night killed six Palestinians -- four civilians and two militants.

The army said at least 36 rockets fired from Gaza had landed in Israel during the flare-up, with a new barrage on Sunday morning injuring four people in the Israeli town of Sderot, several kilometres from the border.

The flare-up is one of the most serious since Israel's devastating 22-day operation in the Gaza Strip over New Year 2009.

The attack on the Israeli jeep was claimed by the armed wing of the left-leaning Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The army said three of the wounded soldiers were in hospital on Sunday, one with severe injuries while two others were moderately injured. A fourth was lightly wounded in the attack.

The Israeli military said it had attacked seven different targets overnight, including arms dumps, a weapons-making facility and two rocket-launching sites "in response to recent events." "The army is acting and will act forcefully against the terror organisations in the Gaza Strip. They are receiving strong blows from the army," Netanyahu said on Sunday morning.

It remained unclear whether Israel would launch a larger-scale operation against the Gaza Strip, as it did in December 2008, just six weeks shy of general elections.