Israel dragged into Syrian civil war for first time

( The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tanks on Monday struck a Syrian artillery launcher following the landing of a stray mortar shell in Israeli territory for the second straight day, the Associated Press reproted.

For the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the IDF on Sunday had fired an artillery missile toward Syria in response to a Syrian mortar shell that exploded near an IDF post at Tel Hazeka in the eastern Golan Heights.

The missile, of the Tammuz type, was fired at the artillery battery of the Syrian army, which has been fighting rebel forces near the village of Bir al-Ajami in the northern Golan Heights. The missile exploded near the Syrian battery, and the IDF refused to say whether it was an intentional miss meant as a warning to the Syrians, according to Israel Hayom.

The IDF believes the Syrian mortar shell was launched in an exchange of fire between the Syrian army and rebels near the Israeli border. The shelling is the most recent in a series of incidents in recent weeks in which Syrian fire reached Israeli territory.

IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai commented on the incident on Sunday, saying, “Amid the fighting between the Syrian army and rebels, a mortar shell was fired toward an IDF outpost. There were no casualties in the incident. In response, IDF forces fired warning shots into Syrian territory and a message was sent to the United Nations to warn Syrian forces to prevent additional fire from entering Israeli territory. The shooting at us is not coming from the rebels, rather from the Syrian army, so our message is directed at the Syrian army. We do not know what effect this message will have but we will follow it and see. This was a warning to the Syrian—more fire will be met with a real and determined response.”

Posted on November 13, 2012 .