Syrian mortars fired into Golan Heights

Syrian mortars fired into Golan Heights

No injuries or damage reported; fire believed to be spillover from Syrian army battles

Fields of grapes in the northern Golan Heights (photo credit: Flash90)
Fields of grapes in the northern Golan Heights (photo credit: Flash90)

Several mortar shells from Syria fell in agricultural land in the northern Golan Heights early Tuesday morning, in the first reported instance of munitions spillover from the Syrian civil war into Israel. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The mortar fire, which struck around 7 a.m., reportedly originated from Syrian Army forces, who were engaged with rebels near the Israeli border, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Rebel forces reported on heavy fighting near Jubata Al Khashab, which sits just east of Syria’s ceasefire line with Israel in the demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries.

In July, Jerusalem complained to the UN over the incursion of Syrian soldiers into the DMZ during fighting with rebel forces.

The IDF said it submitted another complaint over the fire.

A resident of Kibbutz Elrom told Ynet she heard the mortars landing, but thought it was an IDF training exercise. “We didn’t go into shelters, but we’ve implemented supplementary cautionary measures.”

The ongoing conflict in Syria, which the opposition says has claimed over 27,000 deaths since it began in March 2011, has seen several instances of rockets or gunfire spilling over into Turkey and Jordan.

Israel has long feared that the conflict could affect the Golan, and in July took steps to avoid an influx of refugees from Syria. Fighting has broken out near the border with Israel before; in July, Defense Minister Ehud Barak watched from the border as rebels battled regime forces nearby, and the proximity of the fighting sparked a mini-tourism trend.

Last week, the IDF held surprise exercises in the area to simulate a response to a sudden attack.

The rocket fire comes a day before the 39th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, in which Egypt and Syria launched surprise attacks on Israel during Judaism’s holiest day.

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