by Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters
Soldiers shoot at a target across Syrian border Tuesday in response to gunfire that hit IDF jeep on Golan Heights • IDF chief: Israel risks being sucked into a "security deterioration in our region at any moment, which could rapidly spin out of control."
Israeli troops shot at a target across the Syrian border early Tuesday in response to gunfire that struck an Israel Defense Forces jeep in the central Golan Heights, the IDF said in a statement.
The statement said an Israeli military vehicle was damaged by shots fired from Syria, but there were no injuries. It said that soldiers "returned precise fire," confirming that the source of the fire was hit.
The IDF patrol was hit with small-arms fire near the Hizka outpost along the border fence in the central Golan Heights.
On Wednesday afternoon a statement from the Syrian army, published on the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), said that the Syrian army had "destroyed an Israeli vehicle with everyone in it" which entered Syria through the Golan Heights border. The IDF denied the Syrian report, which came about six hours after the cross-border exchange of fire early on Tuesday morning.
Gunfire incidents across the frontier from Syria have recurred in past months during the escalating civil war there in which rebels have sought to topple President Bashar al-Assad.
However, Tuesday's incident was the third consecutive cross-border shooting this week and points to an escalation of events. IDF artillery units returned fire shortly after the latest incident with a Tammuz guided missile, destroying the source of the fire.
Army Radio reported that the assessment in the IDF is that the fire coming over the Syrian border over the last three nights is not spillover from intra-Syrian fighting but is fire directed at the IDF forces in the area.
The IDF statement said Israel viewed these incidents "with concern."
On Tuesday, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned that Israel was constantly at risk of being sucked into a "security deterioration in our region at any moment, a deterioration which could rapidly spin out of control."
"Not a day goes by when we are not faced with decisions which could lead us to a sudden and out of control deterioration. This is the situation that will accompany us in the near term and we need to be more alert because of it," Gantz said, touring the Golan Heights to inspect forces there.
Underlying the growing tensions between Israel and Syria, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) and the Lebanese Al Mayadeen network on Monday broadcast images of an Israeli army jeep which the Syrians say is evidence that the IDF is assisting rebels in Qusair. In response to the footage, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said that the jeep, which has Hebrew writing on it, was a holdover from Israel's campaign in Lebanon in the 1980s and has been out of service for years. "This is a cheap propaganda attempt and nothing more," the spokesman said of the Syrian government report.
Israel Hayom Staff and Reuters
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