The Israeli Air Force launched retaliatory air strikes on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights overnight Sunday, confirming direct hits on nine army positions belonging to the Assad regime — including a regional command center — after a 15-year-old boy was killed earlier Sunday in an attack on the Israeli side.
“The IDF targeted nine Syrian army positions in response to the earlier attack that originated in Syria killing an Israeli teenager and injuring two other Israeli civilians. The targeted sites include Syrian [regional] military headquarters and launching positions,” the IDF said in a statement.
Several Syrian soldiers were reportedly killed in the airstrikes.
Citizens in northern Israel reported hearing large explosions shortly after midnight, according to Israeli news source Ynet.
Syria did not formally respond immediately to news of the air raids. Opposition forces reported that the command center hit in the strikes belonged to the 90th Brigade of the Syrian Army.
IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said Sunday’s deadly attack on a car in the Golan Heights, which killed Mohammed Karkara, 15, and injured three others, was “an unprovoked act of aggression against Israel, and a direct continuation to recent attacks that occurred in the area.”
Military officials said the car was hit by anti-tank fire from an area under the control of Assad regime forces, though one rebel commander told the Times of Israel it was possible the regime had targeted the car with a heat-seeking missile. In response, Israeli tanks fired at Syrian army positions.
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to breach Israel’s sovereignty and will act in order to safeguard the civilians of the State of Israel,” Lerner said.
Karkara, from the town of Arraba in the Lower Galillee, was killed in the attack and his father, a civilian contractor, and two others were injured while delivering water to workers on the border fence.
Israel has responded in the past to cross border fire with targeted strikes on Syrian positions, and planes have reportedly also hit Syrian missile shipments deep inside the war-torn country, though Israel has never confirmed those strikes.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke afterward with Mohammed Karkara’s father Fehmi Karkara and offered his condolences.
“Israel’s enemies are using every means, they don’t hesitate to attack civilians or kill children, as happened this morning,” Netanyahu said at a Jewish media conference in Jerusalem. “They don’t differentiate between the Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel. As a people, our heart breaks at the kidnap of every child, at the killing of every child and I am sure that I speak for all of you when sending our condolences to the grieving family.”
Three weeks ago, IDF forces fired artillery shells at a target in Syria after a mortar shell fired from the war-torn country hit Mount Hermon.
The Israel-Syria border region has seen intermittent exchanges of fire throughout the war in Syria. Although Israel has largely attributed these incidents to stray fire from clashes in Syria, there have been attempts to target Israeli soldiers.