Last updated: 5 March, 2014

Israel claims to hit two Hezbollah fighters on Syria border

Israel’s army said Wednesday it opened fire and struck two members of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as they tried to plant a bomb near the Israeli-Syrian ceasefire line.

“Earlier today, two Hezbollah-affiliated terrorists were identified attempting to plant an explosive device near the Israel-Syria border in the northern Golan Heights. IDF (Israeli army) forces… fired towards the suspects (and) hits were identified,” the army said in a statement.

The army did not specify what weapons were used to fire at the suspected Hezbollah members.

But Damascus said Israel had fired four rockets from the Golan Heights, which it seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war, and accused it of “violating” a ceasefire between the two states.

Eleven people, including four civilians, were wounded, it said.

“The Zionist enemy this morning violated the disengagement accord by firing four rockets from the occupied Golan towards a school and a mosque in Al-Hamidiyeh,” a Syrian army statement said.

“It then fired four tank shells… and opened fire with their machine-guns against (Syrian positions), wounding seven members of the internal security forces and four civilians,” the statement added.

Syria said the rocket attack showed links between Israel and rebels fighting to bring down President Bashar al-Assad, a long-standing claim by the regime.

Syria’s foreign ministry protested to the UN Security Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon over what it termed a “flagrant violation” of both a 1974 ceasefire with Israel and of the UN Charter.

It asked the Security Council to issue a condemnation.

The incident came just over a week after reports that Israeli warplanes bombarded a Hezbollah position on the Lebanese-Syrian border.

Israel neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the two February 24 strikes, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying the Jewish state would do “everything necessary” for its own security.

Hezbollah threatened to retaliate for what was the first reported Israeli air raid on a position of the Shiite movement inside Lebanon since a 2006 war between them.

Israel is bent on halting any transfer of weapons to its arch-enemy Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters across the border to aid Assad’s regime as it battles Sunni-led rebels.

Syria has long provided arms and other aid to Hezbollah, and served as a conduit for Iranian military aid to the movement, which battled Israel to a bloody stalemate in a 2006 war.