3 Syrian mortars land in southern Golan Heights

No reports of injuries or damage in the deepest penetration yet of Syrian fire into Israel

The UN observer force on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights (photo credit: CC BY FreedomHouse/Flickr/File)
The UN observer force on the Israeli-Syrian border in the Golan Heights (photo credit: CC BY FreedomHouse/Flickr/File)

Three Syrian mortars landed near moshav Ramat Magshimim in the southern Golan Heights on Saturday afternoon, causing no injuries or damage.

The incident is the deepest and southernmost penetration of Syrian fire into Israeli territory in years. Based on initial assessments, IDF officials believed it to be a case of errant fire, according to a military spokesman who commented on condition of anonymity. Officials were not immediately certain of how many mortars had actually landed.

Israel promptly filed a complaint with the UN observer force stationed on the Israeli-Syrian border.

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Area residents reported hearing explosions at approximately 2 p.m. local time, and smoke was seen from as far as the northern West Bank settlement of Itamar.

IDF forces, including sappers, were sent in to comb the vicinity of Ramat Magshimim.

On Wednesday, a tank shell from Syria landed in the central Golan community of Alonei Habashan, after several months of relative quiet on the Israeli side of the border.

No damage was reported in that incident, either. The shell, believed to have been an errant shot from a battle between Syrian government forces and rebels, landed in an open area and did not explode. Sappers later disarmed it.

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“The IDF tracked a shell from the Syrian army to us,” Golan Regional Council deputy head Uri Kellner told a local radio station. “This the third or fourth time this has bled into our area, and it cannot continue.”

On Monday, a pro-Syrian rebel activist in Israel told The Times of Israel that rebel forces now effectively control the Syrian border area, but have refrained from taking the Quneitra border crossing, given the political sensitivities of such a move.

Aiman Abu-Jable, an anti-Assad activist from Majdal Shams who edits the Arabic news website, said that according to information he has received from the Syrian side, Assad’s army has vacated the entire border area with Israel and fled to the Damascus region.

In fact, “the regime wants the rebels to take control of all villages on the border area so that Israel intervenes in the conflict, and then Assad can accuse Israel of conspiring against him,” Abu-Jable said.

Last year, after several incidents of spillover, Israel fired on a Syrian target believed to be the source of several shells that fell on the Golan. It was the first IDF fire into Syrian territory since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

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