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.

 

Essebsi claims victory in Tunisia presidential poll

Barzani in Mount Sinjar after end of jihadist siege

U-turn: Qatar pledges 'full support' to Sisi's Egypt

UAE blames 'irresponsible' non-OPEC output for oil price plunge

Turkey TV regulator fines popular show over ‘dance with foreigners’

Five jihadists killed in clashes with Egypt police

Coalition targets ‘Islamic State’ in areas north of Aleppo

Libya Islamist-backed government urges foreigners to return to Tripoli

Palestinians enter Egypt as Rafah crossing reopens for two days

Davutoglu accuses EU of 'dirty campaign' against Turkey

Raid on terrorists accidentally kills Saudi youth in Awamiya town

Egypt sentences ‘spy for Israel’ to ten years in prison

Jordan ends eight-year moratorium on death penalty

Egypt President removes powerful spy chief

Tunisia votes for president in final leg of democratic transition

Turkey acquits sociologist over 1998 explosion

EU foreign affairs head to visit Iraq

Turkey court remands Samanyolu TV chief in custody

IS threatens to kill Lebanese soldiers held hostage

Obama concerned about Egypt mass trials

Tough times for oil-rich GCC

Tumbling oil prices cut budgets of Mideast arms exporters

Iraq’s peshmerga ‘break’ Mount Sinjar siege

Turkish media chiefs charged with terrorism

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator