Israel Strikes Syrian Targets in Retaliation to Errant Rocket Fire

The IDF has attacked three Syrian artillery cannons after five rockets landed in Israel in spillover from the Syrian civil war

File photo: Explosions in Syria seen from the Golan Heights border with Israel on September 14, 2017.
File photo: Explosions in Syria seen from the Golan Heights border with Israel on September 14, 2017. Gil Eliahu

Israel struck three Syrian artilery cannons on Saturday in response to errant rocket fire that landed in the Israeli Golan Heights earlier in the day.

The Israeli military said that despite the fact that the rockets that landed in Israel were spillover from the country's internal civil war, the amount of rocket fire necessitated a sharp Israeli response.

According to the IDF, five projectiles were observed as having entered Israeli territory in the northern Golan region, however the location of only four rockets have thus far been identified.

The rockets all landed in open areas, with no injuries or damage reported.

"The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents and views the Syrian regime as responsible for what is happening in its territory," the army said in a statement.

Security officials regard the Syrian rocket fire as very unusual. The IDF still does not know if the incident was intentional or a result of infighting between the rebels and the Syrian army, but the extent of the fire – five rockets launched into Israel in a short time period and at an unusual time – points to a different set of circumstances.

The identity of those behind the launch is still no known to Israeli security services. It is likely that the Syrian regime did not welcome the incident, which was also met with a strong Israeli response. Using precision ammunition launched from the ground, the IDF hit three Syrian artillery cannons. The army's announcement warned of continued fire towards Israel, and states that "even if this was a spillover, it is an unusual incident and the continuation of such incidents will be met with a stronger Israeli response."

In the past few weeks fighting has intensified in the Syrian Golan Heights between rebel forces and the Syrian army, focusing on the Beit Jann area. Security officials expect the fighting to escalate.  

On Thursday, the IDF struck targets in Syria after errant fire from the country's infighting hit the Golan Heights. A projectile had earlier fallen into an open area of the northern Golan Heights, causing no injuries or damage.

Two rocket-alert sirens were sounded in the Golan Heights on Wednesday in response to internal fighting in Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after the strike that Israel will not tolerate spillover from Syria. "We have a clear policy," the prime minister said during a speech at a ceremony marking 50 years of Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley. "We will attack anyone who attacks us. We won't accept spillover. If they attack us, we return fire. And it doesn't take much time."

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that "any violation of the sovereignty of the State of Israel will be met with a determined response, just as the IDF acted a short while ago." Lieberman, who is currently visiting in Washington, D.C., added that Israel views the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad as "responsible for everything that is happening in its territory," and suggested "not to test our patience and red lines."

That was the second time Israel struck Syria in a week. On Monday, the Israeli air force attacked an anti-aircraft battery east of Damascus after it fired a missile targeting Israel Air Force planes.

The Syrian military warned of "dangerous consequences" following the rare strike, and claimed that they had successfuly hit an Israeli jet.