Israel launched artillery and air strikes against Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights on Thursday night in response to rocket fire, military sources said.
The army launched “five to six” strikes against Syrian positions, the sources said, after four rockets crashed in the Galilee region of northern Israel and in the occupied Golan, in attacks that did not cause any casualties.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group had earlier reported that the Israeli army had launched strikes on regime positions in the Syrian-held sector of the Golan and that Syrian troops were killed in the strikes.
The state-run Syrian news agency SANA for its part said an Israeli helicopter had fired rockets on Quneitra in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights. The strikes hit two local government buildings but caused only material damage, it said.
Israel had warned the government in war-wracked Syria that it would “suffer the consequences” after Thursday’s rocket attacks, which it said had been masterminded by a senior Iranian official.
“This was the work of Islamic Jihad, an organisation financed and working for Iran, and we consider the Syrian government responsible for the firing and it will suffer the consequences,” the army had said in a statement.
It was referring to a Palestinian militant group which is based in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, in a statement, accused Iran of seeking to “open a new terrorist front against Israel on the Golan Heights”.
Thursday’s tit-for-tat strikes came as Mohammed Allan, a Palestinian detainee who Islamic Jihad says is one of its members, ended a two-month hunger strike over his detention without trial by the Israeli authorities.
The Islamic Jihad denied the military’s accusation, saying it was not behind the rocket fire.
“This is an attempt by the (Israeli) occupier to turn attention away from the crimes it is committing against the Palestinian prisoners, and in particular Mohammed Allan,” a statement by the group said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yaalon visited northern Israel on Tuesday to meet military officials.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from neighbouring Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it 14 years later, in a move never recognised by the international community.
Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the Golan has been tense, with a growing number of rockets and mortar rounds hitting the Israeli side, mostly stray, prompting occasional armed responses.