Israel launches retaliatory airstrikes against targets in Syria

9 April, 2023 | Pragati Singh

Syria World

It is the latest flare-up following Israel's early Friday strike on Palestinian militant sites in southern Lebanon and Gaza in response to dozens of rockets fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

As a militant group fired six rockets into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel initiated strikes against Syrian military facilities, CNN said, citing the Israeli military. According to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), six missiles were launched from Syria into Israel, three of which crossed into Israeli land. CNN reported that one of the rockets landed in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. According to CNN, the IDF has not yet confirmed any damage in Israeli territory.

It is the latest flare-up following Israel’s early Friday strike on Palestinian militant sites in southern Lebanon and Gaza in response to dozens of rockets fired from Lebanon into Israeli territory. Following the launch of the rockets, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) stated it had began targeting targets in Syrian territory.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck additional targets in Syrian territory, including a military compound of the Fourth Division of the Syrian Armed Forces, military radars systems and artillery posts used by the Syrian Armed Forces,” the IDF said in a statement early on Sunday local time.

The fighter jet strikes followed previous IDF operations on Syrian territory with a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle or drone), which targeted the launchers suspected of firing the rockets, according to CNN.

The IDF said it “sees the state of Syria responsible for all activities occurring within its territory and will not allow any attempts to violate Israeli sovereignty.”

Syria said it had responded to “Israeli air attacks in the southern part of the country,” and claimed to have intercepted “some Israeli missiles.”

“Around 5 AM today, the Israeli enemy carried out an air attack with a number of missiles from the direction of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, targeting some points in the southern region,” Syrian state media agency SANA quoted a Syrian military source as saying.

According to SANA, the military source added that Syrian air defences had “intercepted the aggressors’ missiles and shot down some of them.”

After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria and annexed the tiny strip of land in 1981. According to CNN, the Golan Heights is considered occupied territory under international law and UN Security Council resolutions.

The rocket launches came amid rising regional tensions following Israeli police raids on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa shrine. Muslims regard Israeli police raids on the mosque as a huge provocation.

On Wednesday last week, Israeli police raided the mosque twice, stating that “hundreds of rioters and mosque desecrators (had) barricaded themselves” inside.

“Many youngsters entered the mosque and closed the doors, for no reason.” Israeli police claimed again on Saturday night.

According to CNN, Israel’s neighbour Jordan has warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Israeli forces raid the mosque again.

Should the Israeli police, “assault worshipers again, in an attempt to empty [the mosque] of worshipers, in preparation for major incursions into the mosque,” it would, “push the situation towards more tension and violence, for which everyone will pay the price,” the Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ambassador Sinan al-Majali, said in a statement late on Saturday local time.

“The Israeli government bears responsibility for the escalation in Jerusalem and in all the occupied Palestinian territories and for the deterioration that will worsen if it does not stop its incursions into the holy al-Aqsa mosque… and its terrorization of worshipers in these blessed days,” al-Majali said.

Jordan’s warning was followed by a statement from Israel’s Foreign Ministry early Sunday, which stated that those who “barricade themselves inside [the al-Aqsa mosque] are a dangerous mob, radicalised and incited by Hamas and other terror organisations.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry demanded that Jordan’s Waqf guards “to immediately remove from the al-Aqsa Mosque these extremists who are planning to riot (on Sunday) during Muslim prayers on the Temple Mount and the Priestly Blessing at the Western Wall.”

The Waqf is the Jordan-appointed agency in charge of the al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews refer to as the Temple Mount.