Israel strikes 3 rocket launchers in Syria after 5 rockets from Syria land in Israeli territory


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel struck three rocket launchers in Syria, damaging them, in response to five rockets from Syria landing in Israeli territory on the Golan Heights.

While the rockets from Syria that struck early on Saturday morning initially were identified by the Israeli military as spillover from Syria’s long-running civil war, Israeli news reports late Saturday night cited unnamed military officials as saying they may have been launched purposely at Israel. There reportedly was no fighting going on in the area in Syria at the time that the missiles landed in Israel.

The rockets, which began landing at 5 a.m. on Saturday, fell in open areas and did not cause any injury or damage. At least one landed near a residential area of Israel. Code Red alarms were sounded in several Golan communities.

“Whether errant fire or not, this is an exceptional incident and any future occurrences will force the IDF to intensify its response, the IDF said in a statement.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents, and holds the Syrian regime responsible   for what is happening in its territory,” the statement also said.

Syria’s army, in a statement issued after Israel’s attack, accused Israel of arranging for the rebels to fire across the border in order to give it an excuse to fire on Syrian positions.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry in a letter sent on Saturday to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also accused Israel, saying it “asked terrorists to launch projectiles at its own territory, so it could justify its own attack,” the Syrian news agency SANA reported Saturday. “This new Israeli aggression against the outskirts of Quneitra is a new chapter in the connection between the Israeli occupation and the armed terrorist organizations, and a desperate attempt to support those organizations,” the letter also said and warned of “grave repercussions to the repeated aggressive actions that cannot be explained as anything but support of terror and criminal terror organizations.”

On Thursday, an Israeli airstrike hit a Syrian army post near the border in retaliation for a rocket that struck Israeli territory in the Golan Heights earlier in the day. On Oct. 15, Syria targeted Israeli fighter jets on routine patrol over Lebanon, and Israel retaliated by striking and incapacitating the missile launcher, which was deep in Syria.

Syria’s military warned of “dangerous consequences” for Israel’s “repeated aggression” following that attack.