Israeli soldiers take part in a military exercise near Moshav Kidmat Tsvi in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on April 3, 2023.
Jalaa Marey | AFP | Getty Images
Israel fired rockets at Syria early on Sunday in retaliation for launches against Israeli-controlled territory, the military said, as tension along Israel’s northern border remained high following a cross-border exchange of fire.
No damage was reported from any of the six rockets launched towards Israel, which Lebanon-Based Al Mayadeen TV said were claimed by Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement.
Israel said it had launched artillery strikes and a drone against the rocket launchers in Syria. Only three of the rockets crossed into Israeli-controlled territory, with two falling into open ground and a third intercepted by air defence systems, the military said.
The strikes came amid sharply increased tensions between Israel and Palestinian groups following Israeli raids this week on Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when police were filmed beating worshippers.
The police raid, which Israel said was intended to dislodge groups that had barricaded themselves into the mosque armed with firecrackers and stones, caused outrage among Arab countries and concern even among Israel’s U.S. allies.
Palestinians stage a protest against Israeli raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque after performing the third Friday prayer of holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in Jerusalem on April 7, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Despite fears of further violence around the mosque on Saturday, there were no reports of serious disturbances.
The site in Jerusalem’s Old City, holy to both Muslims and Jews, who know it as Temple Mount, has been a longstanding flashpoint, notably over the issue of Jewish visitors defying a ban on non-Muslim prayer in the mosque compound.
Clashes there in 2021 helped set off a 10-day war between Israel and Hamas and the exchange of crossborder fire this week Friday awakened memories of that conflict.
On Thursday, more than 30 rockets were fired towards Israel from southern Lebanon, drawing cross-border counterstrikes from Israel on sites linked to the Islamist movement Hamas in Lebanon and Gaza.
Israel seized the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed the 1,200-square-km (460-square-mile) in 1981, a move not recognized by most of the international community.
In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli forces during a confrontation in the occupied West Bank, Israel’s military and the Palestinian health ministry said.