4 rockets fired at Israel from Syria, shot down by Iron Dome, IDF says
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4 rockets fired at Israel from Syria, shot down by Iron Dome, IDF says

Dubious reports emerge shortly thereafter about explosions in Damascus; incident follows Israeli assessments that Iran intends to take more aggressive actions in the region

Israeli air defense system Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel, May 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Illustrative: Israeli air defense system Iron Dome takes out rockets fired from Gaza near Sderot, Israel, May 4, 2019. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Four projectiles were fired at northern Israel from Syria in the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, the Israel Defense Forces said. All four were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

The Israeli military believes the rockets were fired by Iran or one of its proxies.

“Four launches were seen from Syrian territory toward Israeli territory that were shot down by soldiers operating the Iron Dome missile defense system,” the military said in a statement.

The army said it was unlikely that any projectiles had landed inside Israel’s borders. The apparent attack triggered sirens in the northern Golan Heights and Galilee region at 4:52 a.m., sending residents rushing to bomb shelters.

The use of the Iron Dome, as opposed to Israel’s other longer-range defense systems, indicated that the incoming projectiles were short-range rockets. This could not be immediately confirmed.

Minutes later, Syrian official news agency SANA reported that explosions were heard near the Damascus airport. The state media outlet did not elaborate on what caused the blasts.

Some Syrian outlets speculated that this was an Israeli airstrike, while others said this may have been the sound of the rockets being launched at Israel.

Israel refuses to comment on the specifics of its operations against Iran in Syria.

The early morning rocket attack came after the Israeli military warned that it believed Iran intended to take more aggressive actions in the region.

After the incident, the Golan Regional Council said no special safety precautions would be put in place, following consultations with the military. The authorities urged residents to keep to their routines.

On November 12, Akram al-Ajouri, a senior member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, was targeted in Damascus in an attack that was blamed by some on Israel. Islamic Jihad said Ajouri survived the attack, but his son was killed.

Two rockets targeted the home of al-Ajouri, “killing his son Muadh and another person,” SANA said. Ajouri’s bodyguard was the other man killed, Hebrew media reported. Six others were said injured.

That incident came less than an hour after Israel announced it had killed Baha Abu al-Ata, a top commander of the Iran-aligned Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Subsequently, the IDF and the Gaza-based Islamic Jihad terror group engaged in 48 hours of heavy fighting that saw some 450 rockets and mortar shells fired at Israel, which responded with many retaliatory strikes in Gaza

The IDF declined to comment on the Damascus attack.

The northern border has been relatively quiet since the Hezbollah terror group fired several anti-tank guided missiles at an army base and a military jeep just inside northern Israel’s border with Lebanon in September, causing no injuries.

On Monday the army launched a two-day surprise military exercise in northern Israel, the IDF said.

Large numbers of aircraft, vehicles and IDF troops were taking part in the drill, which is designed to test the preparedness of the Northern Command, a military spokesperson said.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is seen by the IDF as one of its most formidable enemies, with an arsenal of rockets and missiles larger than that of most countries. Israel and Hezbollah last fought a war in 2006, though recent years have seen numerous cross-border exchanges of fire and Israel has targeted dozens of Hezbollah shipments in airstrikes in Lebanon and Syria.

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