After years of quiet on the border with Syria, Iran-sponsored terrorists fired rockets from the Syrian Golan Heights on Thursday. Israel responded harshly, vowing to ward off any threat.
Islamic Jihad terrorists, acting on orders from Iran’s Quds Force – which reports directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei – fired four rockets at northern Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights on Thursday at the height of vacation season.
Two rockets hit the Upper Galilee and two hit the Israeli Golan Heights. The area was crowded with hikers. The rockets caused brush fires, but there were no injuries or damage.
This is the first time that rockets fired from Syria exploded in the Galilee region since the 1974 ceasefire after the Yom Kippur War.
In response, Israel Air force (IAF) fighters and IDF artillery targeted 14 Syrian military posts in the Syrian Golan Heights Friday morning. The reports on Syrian casualties vary. Some reports indicate that the launchers from which the rockets were fired were destroyed.
“Iran sponsored these attacks,” the IDF stated. “These were clear and intentional acts of aggression, directly violating Israeli sovereignty. The IDF holds the Syrian government responsible for all attacks emanating from Syrian territory and will continue to protect and safeguard the State of Israel.”
On Friday, the IAF was successful in targeting and eliminating the terror cell that carried out the attacks. IAF aircraft reportedly hit them as they were driving away from the site from which they fired the rockets. Six of them were reportedly killed in the attack, according to Syrian state TV.
“We now know of five or six Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists killed,” an IDF official said after the attack.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the dead terrorists were members of the pro-government National Defense Forces.
Israel will continue to react with severity to any attack on its territory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated on Friday. “I said this week that we would hurt whoever tries to attack us, and this is what we have done. The IDF hit both the cell that carried out the firing and the Syrian forces that made it possible.”
He underscored that Israel has no interest in escalating events, “but our policy remains as it was.” Israeli media quoted an unnamed Syrian official who said that this attack signaled the end of the ceasefire with Israel and that an escalation is in fact forthcoming.
Iran is Behind the Attack
Netanyahu tied the terror attack to the accord recently signed between Iran and the P5+1 powers. The deal is expected to unfreeze billions of dollars worth of Iranian funds, which Israel fears will be used to fuel its global terror network. “The countries that are rushing to embrace Iran should know that it was an Iranian commander who directed and supported the cell that fired at Israel,” he said.
Israel submitted a statement to the US and the five other nations that negotiated last month’s Iran nuclear deal, blaming Tehran for Thursday’s rocket attack from Syria. The rare diplomatic action comes as Israel is increasingly at odds with its US ally over the agreement.
Speaking at the UN, Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor called the attack “an indiscriminate and premeditated terrorist attack against Israeli territory without any provocation from the Israeli side,” stressing that the attack was deliberate.
Pointing a finger at Saeed Izaadhi, who heads the Palestinian unit in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, Prosor said the incident was another “clear and blatant demonstration of Iran’s continued and unabated support and involvement in terrorist attacks against Israel and in the region in general.”
“The ink has not yet dried on the JCPOA nuclear agreement, and Iran has already provided a clear indication that it will continue to act to destabilize the region,” he added.
The attacks “offer a clear indication that Iran cannot be trusted to meet its commitments under the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231 that endorsed the plan of action.”
Prosor demanded a harsh response from the UN Security Council. “I call on the Security Council to publicly condemn these attacks, to hold Syria responsible and to denounce Iran for its active and direct role in perpetrating acts of terror throughout the region. Just as this attack is not business as usual, your response to it cannot be the usual call for both sides to show restraint. This deliberate and unprovoked attack is the act of one side, and one side only.”
The border with Syria has been one of the most peaceful in the past decades. Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the border has become more dangerous, with Israel suffering sporadic spillover of fire into its territory, particularly around the town of al-Quneitra. A senior IDF officer serving in the Golan Heights told correspondents last year that 95 percent of the Syrian side of the border is controlled by various Muslim rebel groups and that the situation could deteriorate quickly.
The IDF expects an escalation and that Iran will direct its terror activities against Israel from Syria, rather than from Lebanon, and is preparing for such a scenario.
By: Max Gelber, United With Israel
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