Explosion Near Syria Border Wounds Four Israeli Soldiers

IDF responds to bombing with artillery fire; three soldiers, who sustained light and moderate wounds, evacuated to Haifa hospital.

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Four Israeli soldiers were wounded by a bomb that hit their jeep in the Golan Heights near the Syrian border on Tuesday.

Three of the wounded soldiers were in light and moderate condition, and a fourth sustained serious injuries. They were evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa for treatment.

The blast that hit the Israeli army jeep was apparently caused by a roadside bomb planted near the border fence in Majdal Shams.

An initial investigation revealed that the soldiers had approached the border after suspicious figures were seen from the lookout tower. When the soldiers exited the jeep, an explosive device was detonated.

The Israel Defense Forces responded to the blast with artillery fire and said it hit several targets.

Majdal Shams residents told Haaretz that the incident took place near the border fence to the south of the town, and that exchanges of fire were heard before the blast. One resident said that there was heavy smoke in the area after the explosion, that a large IDF contingent came to the scene and that helicopters circled overhead.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the incident by declaring that Israel would respond firmly to any threat.

"A short while ago an IDF force went over a bomb in the Golan Heights. I wish those wounded a speedy recovery," he said. "The border with Syria is filling up with jihadi and Hezbollah forces. In recent years we have managed to maintain calm in the face of the civil war in Syria. We will also act firmly to safeguard the safety of the State of Israel."

Tuesday's explosion followed a number of recent incidents on Israel's northern front.

On Friday evening, an explosive charge detonated near Har Dov in the vicinity of the Israel-Lebanon border. None were reported wounded in the attack, which targeted an IDF unit. The IDF fired at a Hezbollah position near the border north of the Israeli city of Metula, using artillery and tanks stationed in the area.

About ten days earlier, a similar incident occurred in the northern Golan Heights, when IDF troops spotted several persons suspected of attempting to plant a charge near the border fence with Syria. The soldiers fired at the persons, using both artillery shells and bullet rounds. An IDF source said the activity was directed by Hezbollah.

The heightened tensions in the north followed an airstrike that was attributed by foreign reports to the Israeli Air Force, targeting a Hezbollah weapons convoy in Lebanon.

Hezbollah threatened to attack Israel in retaliation, and Israeli authorities directed civilians to steer clear of the border to avoid possible sniper fire.

An Israeli army Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) maneuvers during a military exercise near the northern border with Syria on June 25, 2013.Credit: AFP

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