Israel Pummels Targets in Syria, Fingers Hezbollah After Cross-border Rocket Attack
The Israeli army Tuesday afternoon charged that Hezbollah rocket crews fired from Syria into Israeli areas near Mt. Hermon in the Golan Heights.
“At least two rockets hit the Golan Heights in northern Israel. IDF responded with artillery towards the positions that launched the attack. The IDF has evacuated and closed Mt. Hermon for visitors,” a spokesman said.
The army said it fired 20 artillery shells, and that it identified hits.
The IDF said later, after an investigation, that the rockets were fired from areas under Syrian government control, but held the Lebanon-based Shiite group responsible. Syrian reports said there were casualties from Israel’s bombardment.
“Hezbollah is responsible for the incident in which rockets were launched into Israeli territory,” a senior defense official said.
On the Israeli side, while there was no physical injury or damage near several kibbutzim and Druze villages in the area, police evacuated the Neve Ativ resort at the foot of the tourist and skiing center, and closed roads in the area, according to Army Radio.
There were over 1,000 visitors at the skiing center when the attack occurred.
The army instructed residents of Majdal Shams, Buq’ata, Mas’ade, Ein Qiniyye, El Rom, Neve Ativ and Nimrod to remain in bomb shelters until an all clear was given.
Residents of the Galilee Panhandle to the southwest noted heavy Israeli Air Force traffic overhead throughout the day, in the wake of the exchange of fire.
In recent days, Israel has warned Hezbollah not to approach the border or attack its interests abroad, in a message conveyed through Moscow, Israeli media reported Monday, citing Lebanon’s As-Safir newspaper.
According to the newspaper, the message, delivered through Russian intermediaries, was that “Israel is not interested in the deterioration of security and escalation on the northern border, but will not allow the presence of terrorists near the border.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon said during a recent visit to the area that, “we will respond strongly to any attempt to harm us.”
The London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported that Israel would respond harshly to any attack against Israeli targets in the country or abroad in response to its strike on a Hezbollah convoy near Quneitra in the central Golan Heights on January 18th, which killed some 10 militants and an Iranian general.