Israel says hits Syrian army posts in response to drone incursion

An Israeli soldier stands guard on the Israel-Syria border in the annexed-Golan Heights, where sirens were set off following the shooting down of a drone that crossed into Israeli airspace from Syria. (AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
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Israel says hits Syrian army posts in response to drone incursion

BEIRUT/JERUSALEM: Israeli forces attacked Syrian military positions near the Golan Heights frontier in the early hours of Thursday, causing limited damage, Syrian state media said.
The Israeli military said in a statement that it hit three targets in retaliation for an incursion on Wednesday of a Syrian drone which was shot down over northern Israel.
“The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces holds the Syrian regime accountable for the actions carried out in its territory and warns it from further action against Israeli forces,” the Israeli statement said.
Israeli-issued black-and-white surveillance footage showed missiles hitting what appeared to be a hut, a two-story structure and a five-story structure amid hilly terrain.
Syrian state media said the positions targeted on Thursday were near Hader village in Quneitra province, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
“The aircraft of the Israeli enemy fired several missiles in the direction of some army positions,” state media cited a Syrian military source as saying. At least some of the missiles were thwarted by Syrian air defenses, they said.
Israel has grown deeply alarmed by the expanding clout of its arch enemy Iran during the seven-year war in Syria. Its air force has struck scores of targets it describes as Iranian deployments or arms transfers to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russia on Wednesday that Israel would not seek to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad but that Moscow, his key ally, should encourage Iranian forces to quit Syria, a senior Israeli official said.
Israel has been on high alert as Syrian government forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan, which Israel took from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Israel worries Assad could let his Iranian allies entrench near its lines or that Syrian forces may defy a 1974 Golan demilitarization.
Earlier this week, state media said air defense systems struck an Israeli warplane and shot down Israeli missiles targeting the T4 air base in Homs province. Israel neither confirmed nor denied carrying out that strike.
With the help of heavy Russian air power, the Syrian army has seized swathes of Daraa province from insurgents in the south in the past three weeks. The offensive is expected to turn next to rebel parts of Quneitra closer to the Golan.


UN chief urges Israel, Palestinians to avoid ‘devastating conflict’

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 July 2018
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UN chief urges Israel, Palestinians to avoid ‘devastating conflict’

  • More than 130 Palestinians have died so far during violent protests
  • Diplomats at the UN said there had not yet been a call for an urgent Security Council meeting to find ways to lower tensions

UNITED NATIONS, United States: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Saturday on Israelis and Palestinians to avoid “another devastating conflict” after resurgent violence claimed five lives on Friday.
“I am gravely concerned over the dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel,” he said in a statement. “It is imperative that all sides urgently step back from the brink of another devastating conflict.”
The recent violence in Gaza marks the most serious escalation between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war.
Four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier died in clashes Friday. More than 130 Palestinians have died so far during violent protests, and the Red Cross says more than 13,000 have been wounded.
“I call on Hamas and other Palestinian militants to cease the launching of rockets and incendiary kites and provocations” along the fence separating Israel from Gaza, Guterres said.
“And Israel must exercise restraint to avoid further inflaming the situation.”
He encouraged all parties to work with the UN to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, saying that it endangered lives on both sides while aggravating the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza.
Diplomats at the UN said there had not yet been a call for an urgent Security Council meeting to find ways to lower tensions. A regular monthly meeting on the Middle East is on the council’s agenda for Tuesday.
A cease-fire with Israel, announced by Hamas, was generally being respected on Saturday. Egypt had brokered a cease-fire a week earlier.