IDF: 6 rockets fired from Syria at Golan Heights; military retaliates with strikes

Three projectiles cross into Israeli territory in 2 separate barrages, causing no casualties or damage; residents told to open bomb shelters, stay near safe zones

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Israeli soldiers patrol the border fence with Syria, in southern Golan Heights, on January 29, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers patrol the border fence with Syria, in southern Golan Heights, on January 29, 2023. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Six rockets were launched from southern Syria at the Golan Heights on Saturday night and early Sunday in two separate barrages hours apart, with three landing in Israeli territory, the military said.

After the second barrage, the Israel Defense Forces said it carried out artillery and drone strikes in southern Syria, targeting the launchers that had been used to fire the rockets. Later, Israeli fighter jets carried out additional airstrikes near the capital Damascus.

The IDF said Saturday night that three rockets were fired, of which one crossed the border and landed in an open area near the northern Israeli town of Meitsar. An incoming rocket alert was activated in an open area near the town shortly before, the IDF said.

One of the other two projectiles fell short in Syria, with the second landing in Jordan.

The Iron Dome air defense system was not used in that barrage as the projectiles were headed for an unpopulated area, the IDF said.

Hours later, around 3 a.m., three more rockets were fired from southern Syria at Israeli towns in the Golan Heights, the military said.

One of the projectiles in the second barrage was intercepted by Iron Dome, while another landed in an open area near the towns of Natur and Avnei Eitan. The third projectile fell short in Syria.

There were no injuries or damage, according to the Golan Regional Council, which ordered residents of the southern Golan Heights to open public bomb shelters, stay near safe zones, and follow the updating Home Front Command orders.

The Israeli military said it had carried out a drone strike against the launchers used to fire the rockets into Israel from Syria, and later fighter jets hit a military compound belonging to the Syrian army’s 4th Division, as well as a radar and artillery posts used by the army.

The IDF added that it “views the Syrian state as responsible for everything happening in its territory and will not enable attempts to violate Israel’s sovereignty.”

Syria’s state-run SANA broadcaster confirmed damage had been caused by the airstrikes near Damascus, and did not report any injuries.

Israeli soldiers participate in a drill near the border with Syria in northern Golan Heights, June 14, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

A local Palestinian militia called Liwa al-Quds, or the Jerusalem Brigade, claimed responsibility for the rocket launches, according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Lebanese Al Mayadeen network.

According to the report, the militia, which has fought as part of pro-regime forces in Syria’s decade-long civil war, fired the projectiles in response to clashes in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount flashpoint holy site, and was threatening to respond forcefully to any Israeli attack.

The attack came as tensions soared across the region, with a barrage of rockets from Lebanon on Thursday morning; tit-for-tat rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Israeli strikes; clashes at Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount; deadly terror attacks in Israel and the West Bank; as well as a suspected Iranian drone launched from Syria earlier in the week.

Amid a multifront escalation of violence, 34 rockets were launched into Israel from Lebanon Thursday, with five landing inside Israel, four with unknown impact sites, and the rest downed by the Iron Dome. Two people were lightly injured by shrapnel. Later on Thursday, another two rockets were launched from Lebanon at Israel, causing no injuries or damage.

Smoke following interceptions by the Iron Dome air defense system are seen after a rocket attack from Lebanon, April 6, 2023. (Fadi Amun/Flash90)

Israel blamed the Hamas terror group for the rocket fire, as well as volleys of rockets fired from Gaza. Its air force carried out strikes in both Gaza and Lebanon on Thursday night in retaliation.

The uptick in violence has come as tensions have spiked in recent days following Israeli police incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound to quell rioting. On Friday, two sisters were killed and their mother was left fighting for her life in a shooting attack in the West Bank. Later that night, an Italian tourist was killed and seven others were hurt in a suspected car-ramming attack on a promenade in Tel Aviv.

The IDF was to bolster forces across the West Bank, as well as back up police forces in central Israel. IDF chief Herzi Halevi on Friday also ordered a call-up of an unspecified number of reservist soldiers.

In a statement following a security assessment, Halevi said the call-up was focused on air defense units and “air attack arrays,” meaning fighter jet pilots and attack drone operators, as well as other aircrews.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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