Israel counters Syria rocket fire

  • 21/08/2015
(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Israel has launched six artillery and air strikes against Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights in response to rocket fire.

The Israeli army targeted the Syrian positions on Thursday night, after four rockets landed in the north of the Jewish state and the occupied Golan Heights.

Israel warned Syria it would "suffer the consequences" for the rocket attacks, which it says were masterminded by a senior Iranian official.

"This was the work of Islamic Jihad, an organisation financed and working for Iran, and we consider the Syrian government responsible for the firing and it will suffer the consequences," the army said in a statement.

It was referring to a Palestinian militant group which is based in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon accused Iran of seeking to "open a new terrorist front against Israel on the Golan Heights".

Thursday's tit-for-tat strikes came as Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian detainee who Islamic Jihad says is one of its members, ended a two-month hunger strike over his detention without trial by the Israeli authorities.

The Islamic Jihad has denied it was behind the rocket fire.

"This is an attempt by the [Israeli] occupier to turn attention away from the crimes it is committing against the Palestinian prisoners, and in particular Mohammed Allan," a statement by the group said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yaalon visited northern Israel on Tuesday to meet military officials.

Israel seized 1200sq km of the Golan from neighbouring Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it 14 years later, in a move never recognised by the international community.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the Golan has been tense, with a growing number of mostly stray rockets and mortar rounds hitting the Israeli side, prompting occasional armed responses.