Two salvos of rockets hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on April 8 and 9, in a rare attack from Syria amid escalating tension in the region.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said late on April 8 that three rockets were fired from southern Syria, of which one landed in an open area near the settlement of Meitsar. An incoming rocket alert was activated in an open area near the town shortly before. One of the other two rockets fell short in Syria, with the second landing in Jordan. The Iron Dome air defense system was not activated.
Later, early on April 9, a salvo of three more rockets were launched from southern Syria at the Golan Heights, according to the IDF. One of the rockets was intercepted by Iron Dome, while another landed in an open area near the settlement of Natur and Avnei Eitan. The third one fell short in Syria.
The attack, which was the first to be launched from Syria in more than three years, didn’t result in any casualties or material losses.
In an initial response to the rocket attack, Israeli combat drones targeted the launchers used to fire the rockets into the Golan Heights. Later, the IDF said its fighter jets carried out airstrikes against a military compound belonging to the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Division, as well as a radar and artillery posts in southern Syria.
“The IDF considers the Syrian state as responsible for everything happening in its territory and will not enable attempts to violate Israel’s sovereignty,” the military said in a statement.
Syrian news sources said that the Israeli strikes hit the governorates of Daraa and al-Quneitra. Citing a military source, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported that the strikes resulted in material losses only.
The al-Quds Brigade, a Palestinian armed faction that is allied to the Syrian government, claimed responsibility for the rare rocket attack. The faction said that the rocket fire was a response to the April 5 Israeli Police assault on al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem city, in which hundreds of Palestinains were arrested.
It is still unclear if Damascus was aware of the plan to launch rockets from southern Syria at the occupied Golan Heights. In any case, the attack represents a major development. Israel launched hundreds of strikes against the war-torn country over the past decade without facing any real response. This may be about to change.