Israeli army fired warning shots into Syria Sunday in response to mortar fire, the army said, in the first Israeli fire directed at the Syrian military in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights area since the October 1973 war.
"A short while ago, a mortar shell hit an Israeli army post in the Golan Heights adjacent to the Israel-Syria border, as part of the internal conflict, inside Syria between the Free Syrian fighters and forces loyal to Assad regime. In response, Israeli soldiers fired warning shots toward Syrian areas," the army said in a statement.
"The Israeli army has filed a complaint through the UN forces operating in the area, stating that fire emanating from Syria into Israel will not be tolerated and shall be responded to with severity," the statement added.
According to Israeli army spokesman Yoav Mordechai, the message including the warning that one more round of gunshots or mortar fire aimed at Israeli territory would be met with a similar response in return.
“We answered with a warning shot toward Syrian areas. We understand this was a mistake and was not meant to target Israel, and then that is why we fired a warning shot in retaliation."
Earlier Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister said in an interview with a Hebrew language broadcast that Israel was “closely monitoring what is happening on our border with Syria and there too, we are ready for any development.”
Israel's Haaretz daily website said that the Israeli Minister of Defense warned last week that Israel would respond if Syria continued to fire into the Golan Heights, stressing that "international concerns about civil war in Syria could trigger a regional conflict."
For his part, Israel's army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz warned troops on the Golan Heights a week ago, "This is a Syrian issue that could become our issue," Yent news reported.
It is worth mentioning that Israel occupied the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it in 1981, in a move never recognized by its Western allies or the international community.
So far Syria did not comment on the bombing. Also neither the Syrian TV nor SANA agency issued any comment or referred to this event.
In related news, British defense secretary Philip Hammond told BBC1's Sunday Politics show that arming the Free Syrian fighters is under active consideration by the British Army.
“At the moment we don't have a legal basis for delivering assistance to the rebels (Free Syrian fighters), but this is something that the prime minister keeps asking us to test - the legal position, the military position - and we will continue to look at all options."
Meanwhile, according to BBC news, British Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards has said that the Syrian humanitarian situation is worsening with every coming day and that may well provoke cause to intervene in a limited way.
He also said that small detachments may be sent to Syria, already in winter.
Shortly after Gen. Sir David Richards' remarks, Reuters news reported according to activists that Syrian regime helicopters fired rockets at a grain storage area, near the village of Tal Halaf, during the bombing of a rebel area near the Turkish border.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime warplanes also launched air strikes on the town of Albu Kamal near the Iraqi border Sunday.
The local coordination committees, a network of opposition activists on the ground, meanwhile, reported that 121 people were killed, including 11 civilians in the town of Daraya.
I did not expect that Israel would respond to the Syrian attacks as long as it did not lead to casualties in the Israeli side. The strange thing is that there is not trace for any element of the Free Syrian Army close to the Syrian border with Israel. I have already mentioned that in earlier reports. The Syrian regime aims to provoke the Israelis by the repeated shelling of mortars and bullets, in order to start a war with Israel, which would certainly be the lifeline to the regime.
For sure, the Israelis, despite their denials, would prefer the Assad regime to remain, because the Syrian regime provided astonishing security for Israel after the cease-fire post the 1973 war. Their borders are safe to the extent that the security fence between Syria and Israel is weak and old, and the Israelis admit that their borders with Syria are more secure than their borders with Egypt, despite the peace agreement.
The question is whether Israel is confident that the next regime after the elimination of the current regime will maintain the calm? Of course, the answer is "impossible." For this, I reassert that it is not in the interest of Israel to change the current Syrian regime led by the Assad family.
For the first time since the beginning of the Syrian Revolution, the British military establishment announced that it is considering military intervention. Is this just a threat to Assad? This statement came after British Prime Minister granted Assad an offer for safe passage from the country. Assad rejected this proposal during his interview with Russian television.
I think that there are many developments on the Syrian file, but until the moment nothing is clear to public, especially that we no longer hear about movements or visits by the International envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to Syria. Besides that, Champions of the Free Syrian Army are marking achievements and victories against the gang of the Syrian regime, which gives the indication that Syrian regime, despite the Russian support, is still losing a lot on the ground. Is the end of the criminal regime approaching?