Errant shell from Syria lands in Golan Heights as Netanyahu tours area
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Errant shell from Syria lands in Golan Heights as Netanyahu tours area

In response, IDF strikes Syrian army position; PM vows Israel will not tolerate any 'violation of our sovereignty'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his visit to Katzrin the Golan Heights to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding on June 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his visit to Katzrin the Golan Heights to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding on June 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

A shell from fighting in Syria landed in the Golan Heights on Wednesday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was touring the strategic plateau. There were no injuries or damage caused and the PM was not in any danger.

The IDF immediately struck a Syrian military position from which the mortar shell was fired, fulfilling Netanyahu’s vow that Israel “will not accept stray fire” from the Syrian civil war landing in its territory.

The incident came as Netanyahu spoke at an event marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the city of Katzrin, some 17 kilometers (10 miles) from the Quneitra area where the mortar struck.

“We are here celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Katzrin, the capital of the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said. “I said that we will not tolerate spillover and that we will respond to every firing. During my speech shells from the Syrian side landed in our territory and the IDF has already struck back. Whoever attacks us – we will attack him. This is our policy and we will continue with it.”

Earlier, in the speech, Netanyahu referred to the uptick in incidents over the past week of stray fire from fighting in Syria landing in Israel, saying that Israel would “respond with decisiveness and strength” to any spillover from the civil war.

“We are not involved in the bloody conflict in Syria, but we are determined to respond with decisiveness and strength to any violation of our sovereignty,” Channel 2 quoted him as saying. “Whoever shoots at our territory and endangers our citizens will be met with a quick and strong answer.”

A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border shows smoke rising near the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights during fights between the rebels and the Syrian army inside Syria, June 25, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)
A picture taken from the Israeli side of the border shows smoke rising near the Israeli-Syrian border on the Golan Heights during fights between the rebels and the Syrian army inside Syria, June 25, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Over the past week, errant fire from Syria struck the Golan Heights on at least three occasions, leading the IDF to target Syrian army installations, including in a strike on Saturday that reportedly killed two Syrian soldiers. Israel holds the Assad regime responsible for all incidents originating from the war-torn country.

As a result, the IDF declared the area adjacent to the border a closed military zone on Sunday, but announced on Wednesday it would be reopened to civilian access.

In his speech, Netanyahu also vowed that “the Golan Heights will always be ours” and said Israel must continue to retain its control over the area in light of the ongoing bloodshed in Syria.

“We hold this territory fearlessly, while on the other side of the border there is chaos and tragedy,” he said, according to Channel 2.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and later extended its sovereignty over the area in 1981 in a move that was never recognized by the international community.

Netanyahu also repeated his pledge that Jewish state would not tolerate the Syrian Golan Heights being used as a new “front against Israel.”

“We will not allow radical Islam led by Iran or IS to open a front against Israel from the Syrian side of the border,” Channel 2 quoted him as saying.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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