For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling. The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The IDF said it found no evidence of a second round of rocket or mortar fire and launched a probe as to why the sirens were triggered.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.
The rocket fire from Syria was a “blatant violation of Israeli sovereignty,” the IDF said in a statement overnight Tuesday-Wednesday following the air strikes. “The IDF considers the Syrian regime responsible for any [attacks] originating from Syrian soil, and will act at any time and in way way it sees fit to protect Israeli citizens. These [strikes] were accurate, direct hits.”
An IDF source told the Ynet news site that the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah was behind the rocket fire earlier in the day. He added that Israel holds Syria responsible, as the launches originated in its territory.
The source also said that the rockets fired were 107 mm in diameter, and that they were launched from a Syrian army position.
Speaking to diplomats Tuesday at a Holocaust memorial event, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that whoever decides to challenge Israel will find Israel is well-prepared to respond.
“Those who play with fire – will be hit with fire,” Netanyahu warned.
After Tuesday morning’s rocket fire, roads in the area were closed as a precautionary measure as police searched for rocket remains, and the Mount Hermon ski slopes were evacuated. The Hermon ski site was expected to be open Wednesday.
At least one rocket exploded in an open area near Kibbutz El-Rom, near the border with Syria.
The IDF returned artillery fire into Syrian territory in response to the rockets. Some 20 artillery rounds were fired into Syrian territory, scoring a direct hit. Unconfirmed reports indicated there were casualties on the Syrian side.
Lebanese media reported Israeli fighter aircraft in the skies over the Golan Heights shortly thereafter.
Tuesday’s incidents took place amid heightened tensions in northern Israel following a reported Israeli airstrike on the opposite side of the border with the Syrian Golan Heights that killed an Iranian general, a Hezbollah commander, and at least 10 others last Sunday.
Last week, in the wake of the reported attack, the IDF mobilized troops and armor to the north following Hezbollah threats of retaliation, and deployed at least three Iron Dome missile defense batteries near the northern city of Haifa.