Israel Artillery Strikes Syria in Response to Rocket Fire


The Israeli military has reported that six rockets were fired from Syrian territory towards Israel, with one landing in the annexed Golan Heights. The incident prompted the Israeli military to launch artillery attacks on Syria. There were no reports of casualties or damage. The rocket launches were claimed by Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement. The attack comes amid escalating violence on multiple fronts, including in Gaza, Lebanon, occupied East Jerusalem, and the occupied West Bank.

The rocket fire from Syria occurred against the backdrop of soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions triggered by Israeli police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. The site in Jerusalem’s Old City is holy to both Muslims and Jews, who know it as Temple Mount. It has been a longstanding flashpoint, notably over the issue of Jewish visitors defying a ban on non-Muslim prayer in the mosque compound. The raids came at a time of heightened religious fervor, with Ramadan coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian Easter celebrations.

Violent scenes from the attacks outraged Palestinians observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan and prompted armed groups in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip to fire a barrage of rockets into Israel. The Israeli military then bombed several sites that it said belonged to the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

In a separate incident on Saturday, Israeli security forces shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian in the northern occupied West Bank. Ahed Salim was hit in the chest and stomach by live fire in Azzun near Qalqilyah, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israelis were also on edge after a car-ramming in Tel Aviv on Friday that killed an Italian man and wounded five other tourists. The Tel Aviv attack came hours after a Palestinian man shot and killed two Israeli sisters and wounded their mother near an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Amid the escalation, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has extended a closure barring entrance to Israel for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the duration of Passover, while police beefed up forces in Jerusalem on the eve of sensitive religious celebrations. Mass prayers, however, were permitted at the Al-Aqsa mosque over the weekend. More than 2,000 police were expected to be deployed in Jerusalem on Sunday, when tens of thousands of Jews are expected to gather at the Western Wall at the Al-Aqsa compound for the special Passover priestly blessing.