For first time since the Yom Kippur War, the IDF has fired into Syrian territory: The IDF's Artillery Corps fired a missile at a post in Syria after a 120mm mortar shell landed in the eastern Golan Heights on Sunday morning.
This was the first time that the army has fired at Syria since 1973. No injuries or damage were reported.
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The missile fired by the IDF was an advanced Tammuz missile, an electro-optic missile that is based on Spike long-range missile technology and is developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
IDF sources said that is was likely that this too was the result of the ongoing clashes between the Syrian army and rebels forces, and that Israel was not intentionally targeted.
A statement issued by the IDF's Spokesperson's Unit said that "IDF forces fired warning shots and relayed a message to the Syrian forces via the United Nations that warns against additional fire. Additional fire will prompt a quick response."
IDF troops near the border (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
IDF spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai added that the army's decision to retaliate, which was authorized by Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz, had taken into account the fact that during the last two months, eight such events were recorded, including mortar and light-artillery fire as well as Sunday's mortar hit.
Mordechai added that "For the first time since the Yom Kippur War, fire was aimed at a Syrian post. We don’t know whether there are any casualties on the Syrian side.
"We also notified the UN of the incident and repeated the warning given to Syria, that the IDF will not tolerate any fire on Israel. We will be monitoring the situation to see if the message was received," he said.
Syrian border area (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
No desire to get between Assad and rebels
Mordechai chose not to comment on whether the forces had intended to miss their target. He did however say that "every piece of artillery that threatens Israel is a potential target," and added that the IDF has no desire to get involved in the conflict between Assad and his opposition, but solely to protect Israeli citizens from wandering shells.
Ynet's senior defense analyst, Ron Ben-Yishai said that the IDF's goal in firing at Syria was not to instigate war, but rather to signal to Syria that Israel will not ignore any fire at its territory. The IDF's response, he said, was meant to convey that any such future fire will meet direct hits in Syria.
The IDF is not interested in giving Assad a reason to shift attention towards Israel, rallying the Arab world behind him.
Last week a mortar shell landed in Alonei Habashan, causing no harm.
Last Monday, an IDF patrol suffered a hit by Syrian gunfire. The jeep was hit during a routine Golani patrol of the border. No injuries were reported.
Last weekend, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized buffer zone in the central Golan Heights, leading the IDF to raise its alert level in the area.
The Israeli army filed a complaint with UN forces enforcing the ceasefire in the Golan Heights.
The last few months have seen several mortar shells landing inside Israeli territory, apparently unintentionally.
Maor Buchnik contributed to this report
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