The Israeli military attacked Syrian army artillery positions in the Golan Heights on Tuesday after three mortars were launched from Quneitra across the border into Israel. According to local news media reports, the incident marked the seventh such high-trajectory projectile firings over the previous 10 days.
While the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) did not specify whether the mortar firings were an intentional attack or errant fire from the Syrian civil war, a spokesman for the government said, “the IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israel’s sovereignty and security of its citizens.” Both al-Qaeda affiliates fighters and militants from the Lebanese-based terrorist group Hezbollah are battling for control of the border region. Jerusalem ultimately holds the Syrian government responsible for an attack emanating from inside its borders, even when it is unclear who fired the mortars or missiles.
Following the Israeli airstrikes, SANA, a Syrian state run media agency, reported that the Syrian military had shot down a IDF fighter jet. An Israeli military spokesman categorically denied the claim, but did acknowledge that two surface-to-air missiles had been fired at the jets. “At no point was the safety of IDF aircraft compromised,” he said.
While Israel has largely stayed out of the Syrian civil war, leaders in Jerusalem have repeatedly warned of core interests they must protect, including defending the Jewish state’s territorial integrity and limiting the transfers of advanced weapons to terrorist groups across Syria.