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Syria mortar bomb lands in Israeli village

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Thu, 8 Nov 2012 15:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds comments by Israeli homefront minister)

JERUSALEM, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A mortar bomb fired from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Thursday, the Israeli military said, with spill-over from the conflict in the Arab country on the rise.

An Israeli military source said the mortar bomb landed in an Israeli village and had not gone off. No casualties or damage were reported. A military spokesman added that a few mortars had been fired, all of them errant and not aimed at Israeli targets.

The incident follows several similar events in the past week, as fighting has flared in close-by Syrian villages between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

"Israel now needs nerves of steel," Israeli Homefront Minister Avi Dichter said on his Facebook page, pointing to the difficulty of pinpointing those responsible for firing the mortar bombs for possible military action against them.

With "no return address", he wrote, Israeli defence officials have to adopt "a very careful response policy".

On Saturday three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria and Israel has asked the U.N. Security Council to act on what it said was "a dangerous escalation".

Since then an Israeli military vehicle was hit by a stray Syrian bullet, a round of mortar bombs landed in the demilitarized zone and a landmine was set off by more stray firing, sparking a small fire.

The military spokesman said that all these incidents were not aimed at Israel. Israel's army chief, Benny Gantz, on Sunday warned troops on the Golan Heights: "This is a Syrian issue that could become our issue."

Israel captured the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau, from Syria during the 1967 Middle East war. The two countries signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 after the so-called Yom Kippur War, but are still technically in conflict.

Israel annexed the territory in 1981 in a move not recognised internationally. (Writing by Maayan Lubell; editing by Crispian Balmer)

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