First Published: 2012-11-12

 

New clashes along Israel-Syria border: Is Assad playing Golan card?

 

Israeli troops fire tank shells into Syria, confirming ‘direct hits’ on source of mortar round that struck Golan Heights.

 

Middle East Online

Will Tel Aviv get caught in war with Damascus?

JERUSALEM - Israeli troops fired tank shells into Syria on Monday, confirming "direct hits" on the source of a mortar round that struck the Golan Heights as tensions flared along the ceasefire line.

The exchange marked the second straight day that Israeli troops have been drawn into the Syrian conflict and came just hours after an appeal for restraint from all sides by UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

On Sunday, Israeli troops fired a warning shot across the UN-monitored ceasefire line in response to Syrian fire, in the first instance of Israeli fire directed at the Syrian military in the Golan Heights since the 1973 war.

Monday's incident came shortly after a Syrian mortar round struck near an army post in the Israeli-occupied Golan, the military said, warning that any further shooting would be answered with "severity."

A military statement said that a mortar round hit an open area near an army post in the central heights, causing no damage or injuries.

"In response, IDF (Israel Defence Forces) soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits," it said.

"Syrian mobile artillery was directly hit," a military source added, without elaborating.

The military statement warned that any further shooting from Syria "will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his government was keeping an eye on developments.

"We are closely following what is going on and will respond appropriately,' he told an audience of diplomats in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon. "We will not allow our borders to be violated or our citizens to be fired upon."

The incident on Sunday, which came after a Syrian mortar round hit an Israeli army position, drew a warning from Defence Minister Ehud Barak that Israel would take "tougher" action in response to any new fire.

"Syria has been in the midst of a brutal civil war for over a year, and the IDF has been instructed to prevent the battles from spilling over," he said in a statement.

"Additional shelling into Israel from Syria will elicit a tougher response, exacting a higher price from Syria," he warned.

After the exchange, Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said the UN chief was "deeply concerned by the potential for escalation."

"He calls for the utmost restraint" and urges both sides to uphold the 1974 accord which set up the ceasefire line and surrounding demilitarised zone.

Fears of a spillover of the conflict, which has ravaged Syria for the past 20 months and left tens of thousands dead, have widened as violence has spread to Syria's borders with Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

On Thursday, three stray mortar rounds from Syria hit the Golan, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community.

And on Monday, an Israeli military vehicle patrolling the buffer zone was hit by stray Syrian gunfire.

Israel complained to the United Nations Security Council over the incident, and an earlier one in which three Syrian tanks entered Bir Ajam village, five kilometres (three miles) southeast of Quneitra, in the demilitarised zone.

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

 

Saudi King sets up new state security agency

Hezbollah launches Syria border operation

Intensifying Jihadist-rebel clashes in Syria's Idlib

Police fire tear gas to disperse Morocco protest

Foreign food chains hoping for taste of Iran market

Three Palestinians shot dead in Jerusalem

Nearly 360 injured in Turkey by magnitude 6.7 quake

UN says Saudi to blame for deadly Yemen strike on civilians

Germany reviews arms sales to Turkey

China calls for Gulf crisis talks

Israel bars men under 50 from Jerusalem Old City prayers

Rebel ambush kills 28 regime fighters near Damascus

Turkey slams 'dangerous' Cyprus energy plans

Saudi prince 'arrested over leaked abuse videos'

Israel boosts 'security measures' as Al-Aqsa tensions simmer

Kuwait expels Iranian diplomats over 'terror' cell

Germany vows to overhaul Turkey ties as row escalates

Home cooked meals a relief for fighters in Syria's Raqa

US maintains designation of Iran as top 'state sponsor'

US halting support for Syria rebels

30 civilians dead in anti-IS strikes in Syria

Palestinian civilians urge ICC to speed up probe

Turkey PM opts for stability in light cabinet reshuffle

UN aid flight carrying journalists barred from Yemen

Former IS slaves fight for revenge in Raqa

US, Iran trade tit-for-tat sanctions

20 Yemeni civilians killed in air strike

14 killed in opposition infighting in Syria's Idlib

Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings

Egypt police kill top militants

Heavy rainfall hits Istanbul causing transport chaos

Palestinians protest Israeli security measures at Al-Aqsa compound

Saudi police question woman who wore miniskirt

Rebels, US-backed Kurds clash in northern Syria

Netanyahu says Hungary is 'standing up for' Israel

Lebanon army to launch operation near Syria border

Morocco delays currency reform amid speculation

Iran parliament vows to fight US 'adventurism'

4 killed in suicide car bomb at Kurdish checkpoint in Syria

Israel opposes Syria truce deal over Iran presence

Egypt to end visas on arrival for Qatari citizens

Erdogan to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Turkey court refuses to free six rights activists

Trump keeps Iran deal, but sanctions will stay in place

UAE FM warns Qatar is 'undermining' GCC allies