Four Palestinian civilians are reported killed in Gaza as fears grow that Syrian civil war could spill across border
The Guardian, By Harriet Sherwood, November 11
Jerusalem – Israeli troops are engaged on two of the country’s borders, firing warning shots into Syria after a mortar shell hit an Israeli army post on the Golan Heights and targeting militants in Gaza in an escalating round of violence over the weekend. Four Palestinian civilians were reported killed in air strikes on Gaza.
In the north, the Israeli Defence Forces’ (IDF) response came amid concerns that the civil war in Syria could spill across the boundary into the Golan Heights, which Israel has occupied since 1967. In the past week, four shells fired from within Syria have landed in the Golan, although none have caused damage or injuries. Eight days ago, three Syrian tanks briefly entered the buffer zone between Syria and the Golan Heights.
Sunday’s warning shots were the first time the IDF has fired into Syrian territory since the 1973 Yom Kippur war. “A mortar shell targeted an IDF post in the Golan Heights,” said the army spokeswoman, Avital Leibovich. “We answered with a warning shot towards Syrian areas. We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation.”
Netanyahu warned that the military was ready to intensify its response to rocket fire from Gaza following the escalation of attacks and counter-attacks.
The round of violence followed a similar spike almost three weeks ago, which subsided after intervention by Egyptian mediators. But some observers believe Netanyahu may be more inclined to order a robust approach in the runup to Israel’s general election on 22 January.