IDF investigating why rocket defenses didn't activate

2 Syrian rockets said to land in Sea of Galilee, near crowded tourist beach

Golan sirens blare in spillover from Syrian civil war; police searches of shores come up empty; authorities plan to resume hunt at sunrise

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Illustrative: Israelis at the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret).  (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis at the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret). (Yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

Two rockets from Syria apparently landed in the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel Wednesday, in what the army said was spillover from the Syrian civil war.

The errant fire from the Syrian civil war triggered sirens throughout the Golan Heights, the army said.

The Emek Hayarden Regional Council said two projectiles landed in the Sea of Galilee, but police stated that they were unable to find any remnants of a rocket, missile or mortar after hours of searches in the area.

The search for the projectiles and/or debris will resume Thursday at sunrise, police said.

Eyewitnesses told Hadashot news that they saw the projectiles land in the water — one of them exploding, and the other not.

“We heard a whistling,” one local recalled. “And then a second whistling. And then we saw [one of the missiles] falling into the water, maybe 50 meters from the beach.”

The projectiles were believed to have been fired from the southern part of the Syrian Golan Heights, where the regime of Bashar Assad has been completing its campaign against the last rebel villages remaining in the area.

Military sources said late Wednesday they inclined to believe that the projectiles were fired by Islamic State jihadists at Syrian regime forces, but stressed they could not confirm this.

Incoming rocket sirens blared across the Israeli Golan Heights, sending residents of the area scrambling to bomb shelters.

The military said the system was triggered after it identified projectiles launched in the direction of Israel. No missile defense systems were fired, however, and the IDF was investigating why they were not.

School vacation meant that the area surrounding Sea of Galilee was packed with tourists. There were no injuries reported.

The projectile fire came a day after the Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace.

“Two Patriot missiles were fired at a Syrian Sukhoi-model fighter jet,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The IDF said the aircraft was monitored as it approached the border with the Golan Heights.

The Islamic State terrorist group publishes pictures of what it says are remains of Syrian jet shot down by Israel on June 24, 2018 (Screenshot courtesy of Walla)

And on Monday, Israel fired interceptor missiles toward a pair of Syrian surface-to-surface missiles carrying approximately a half ton of explosives that were initially believed to be heading toward Israel. The missiles — fired as part of internal Syrian fighting — fell short of the border, and the interceptors did not engage with them.

Israel has insisted that Syria abides by the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which was reached following the Yom Kippur War the year before, that established a demilitarized zone along the border between the two countries. Syria is still formally at war with Israel.

On Friday, Israel shot down a Syrian drone operating in this buffer zone, which Israel said amounted to a violation of the 1974 ceasefire agreement.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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