Israeli warplanes struck nine Syrian army positions on the Golan Heights overnight after a Syrian missile killed a teenager on the Israeli-held side of plateau, the army said yesterday.
It was the second time in three months that Israel had publicly acknowledged striking targets inside Syria, and came just hours after the deadly attack killed a 13-year-old boy.
Sunday’s incident, in which a Syrian anti-tank missile struck an Israeli defense ministry car, was the most serious escalation along the ceasefire line since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, the Israeli army said.
The sites targeted in the air strikes included Syrian military headquarters and launching positions, the military said, adding that direct hits were confirmed.
There were no immediate reports of Syrian casualties.
“We hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the Syrian army responsible for what happens from their territory, and will continue to react forcefully to any provocation,” Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in a statement.
The dead boy killed in Sunday morning’s attack was the son of an Israeli defense ministry contractor and was identified as Mohammed Qaraqra, an Arab Israeli from Arabeh village in northern Israel.
The Israeli defense ministry said he was killed when a blast hit the car he was in with his father and another contractor, both of whom were wounded.
An army spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the car had been hit by a Syrian anti-tank missile.
Military sources said it was a defence ministry vehicle used by workers constructing a fence along the ceasefire line.
Meanwhile, Israeli troops detained 37 Palestinians in the West Bank overnight as its arrest campaign entered its 11th day yesterday, with no sign of three teenagers thought kidnapped by Hamas.
Since the youths disappeared from a hitchhiking stop in the southern West Bank on June 12, Israel has been rounding up hundreds of Palestinians in a bid to find them, while also dealing a crushing blow to the Islamist movement’s West Bank network.
So far, four Palestinians have been killed in clashes sparked by the wave of arrests.
Israeli forces also raided seven Hamas institutions.
So far, there has been no claim of responsibility and no sign of the missing youngsters, although Israeli military spokesman General Motti Almoz said on Sunday that all information indicated they “are alive.”
Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has denounced the abductions and defended his security forces’ ongoing cooperation with their Israeli counterparts to try to locate the missing boys.