IDF says it shelled Syrian army sites that violated 1974 disengagement agreement

Tanks and artillery fire at structures on Syrian part of Golan Heights; military says it holds its Syrian counterpart responsible for everything that happens in its territory

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

An IDF tank seen near the border with Syria, in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on April 9, 2024. (Michael GiladiFlash90)
An IDF tank seen near the border with Syria, in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, on April 9, 2024. (Michael GiladiFlash90)

In a rare development, the Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday that its tanks and artillery had shelled Syrian army sites in southern Syria that had violated a disengagement agreement between the countries.

According to the IDF, the structures erected in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights were a violation of the Agreement on Disengagement signed in 1974 between Israel and Syria, which concluded the Yom Kippur War.

“The IDF considers the Syrian army responsible for everything that happens in its territory and will not allow attempts to violate the disengagement agreement,” the military added.

In recent years, Israel has destroyed several Syrian positions built within the demilitarized zone between the countries in the Golan Heights.

Last September, Israel also fired shells at structures it said violated the disengagement agreement.

The Wednesday shelling came amid tinderbox tensions on Israel’s northern border, where the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah has carried out near-daily attacks since October 8, claiming it is acting in support of the Gaza Strip amid the ongoing war there between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has fired barrages of rockets at northern communities and military bases. On Tuesday, two civilians were killed on the Golan Heights by a Hezbollah rocket.

Israel has hit back at Hezbollah positions and, allegedly, bombed related locations in Syria. Some rockets have been fired at Israel from Syrian territory too. Syria is allied with Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.

During the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Syrian state news agency SANA claimed separately that Israel had launched an aerial attack on a site in the vicinity of Baniyas in northern Syria, which resulted in some material losses. Local media alleged that the target was linked to Iran.

The Syrian defense ministry later said there were no casualties in the strike near the Mediterranean coastal city.

The Gaza war erupted on October 7 when Hamas led a devastating cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military offensive in Gaza to destroy Hamas and free 251 hostages abducted from Israel by terrorists and taken as hostages to the Palestinian enclave during the Hamas attack.

As a rule, the IDF generally does not comment on specific strikes in Syria, though it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade.

The Israeli military says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

In the past, strikes on areas close to the Israeli border in the Golan Heights have targeted specific individuals suspected of plotting attacks against Israel or in the midst of carrying them out.

Israel has repeatedly accused the Syrian military of actively assisting Hezbollah in the area.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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