ISRAELI troops have fired tank shells into Syria in retaliation for a mortar round that struck near an army post in the Golan Heights, scoring “direct hits” on the source of the fire, the army says.
“A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an open area in the vicinity of an IDF (army) post in the central Golan Heights, as part of the internal conflict inside Syria, causing no damage or injuries,” it said on Monday.
“In response, IDF soldiers fired tank shells towards the source of the fire, confirming direct hits.”
Israeli military sources said: “Syrian mobile artillery was directly hit,” without elaborating further.
The army warned that any further fire from Syria towards the Israeli-occupied sector of the strategic plateau would be answered with “severity”.
“Fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity,” a statement said, indicating that Israel had filed a complaint with UN observers monitoring the ceasefire line.
Israeli troops fired a warning shot across the UN-monitored ceasefire line on Sunday in the first such shooting on the Golan since the 1973 Middle East war.
Sunday’s mortar round, which hit an Israeli position, drew a warning from Defence Minister Ehud Barak that Israel would take “tougher” action in response to any new fire from Syria.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman Martin Nesirky said after Sunday’s fire 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 that set up the ceasefire line and surrounding demilitarised zone.