At least two rockets fired from Syria landed in Israeli territory Tuesday, drawing retaliatory fire into Syria, Israel’s military said.
The rockets landed on the Israeli-controlled side of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. The rockets caused no injuries but prompted the evacuation of 1,000 visitors from Mt. Hermon, Israel’s only ski site.
The Israeli army responded with artillery, firing about 20 shells at what it said was the source of fire in Syria. According to initial reports from Syria, two people were killed.
It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets, but Israel’s security forces have been on high alert since an airstrike Jan. 18 killed a dozen members of the militant group Hezbollah and Iranian forces in Syria. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have vowed to retaliate for the operation, which was attributed to Israel.
Israel has signaled over the last week that it was not interested in an escalation but would react if attacked. “Israel will not tolerate any provocation and will hold governments responsible for organizations operating from their territory,” said Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
Meanwhile, Israel has beefed up its deployment of forces along its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria since the strike. Its forces have begun digging deep ditches to prevent cross-border infiltration from Syria, local media report.
Following Tuesday’s rocket fire, security authorities announced that the Mt. Hermon ski site would remain closed for the time being, and police deployed several roadblocks to keep civilian traffic away from the border. Israeli farmers were instructed to stay out of fields and orchards in proximity to the border with Syria.
Sobelman is a special correspondent.