Israeli air strikes hit Syrian military on Golan Heights

Nine positions targeted in response to attack that killed teenage boy

Mourners watch the funeral of teenager Muhammad Fahmi Krakara who was killed when an anti-tank projectile fired from within Syria struck near the border fence on the Golan Heights on Sunday. Photograph: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Mourners watch the funeral of teenager Muhammad Fahmi Krakara who was killed when an anti-tank projectile fired from within Syria struck near the border fence on the Golan Heights on Sunday. Photograph: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 01:00

For the first time in 40 years, Israeli air force planes have hit front-line Syrian military positions on the Golan Heights.

Nine Syrian army positions were targeted in response to a cross-border attack in the Golan Heights on Sunday in which a 13-year-old Israeli boy was killed – the first fatality on the Israeli side of the border since Syria’s civil war started more than three years ago.

The targets, destroyed in at least three sorties, included a Syrian army regional command centre, at least two tanks and artillery batteries. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 Syrian soldiers were killed in the attack.

Israeli defence minister Moshe Ya’alon said Israel holds Syrian president Bashar al- Assad and the Syrian military responsible for attacks emanating from Syrian territory.

“We will continue to respond harshly and strongly to any provocation and attack on our sovereignty. We will exact a heavy price from those who try to disrupt our lives, whether it’s the Syrian military or terrorists operating from Syrian territory,” he said.

Anti-tank missile

Israel believes Mohammed Karakra (13), an Israeli Arab, was killed by an anti-tank missile fired across the border by either Syrian troops or Hizbullah forces assisting the Syrian army against Islamist rebels. The boy, who was buried yesterday, had spent the first day of the summer holiday accompanying his father, a defence ministry contractor, delivering water to border fence workers.

The Syrian army said the Israeli air strikes were a “desperate attempt to escalate and worsen the situation” and divert attention from the regime’s advances against the rebels.

“Repeating such hostile acts [air strikes] would endanger the security and stability of the region and make it open to all possibilities,” said the Syrian military statement.

Israel has beefed up its defences on the Syrian border and is monitoring developments on the Syrian side closely, as fierce battles continue between the Syrian army and rebels. A number of shells have landed on the Israeli side but they are believed to have been stray fire. l Dan Keenan adds: A spokesman for the Defence Forces, which has an Irish UN contingent on the Golan, said yesterday a number of “heavy explosive impacts” were felt about 2.5km from Camp Faouar overnight on Sunday. Routine protective measures were followed, including sheltering in bunkers for 75 minutes.

Some 130 Defence Forces personnel serving with the 44th Infantry Group are deployed on the Golan as part of the United Nations Disengagement Force.

The 44th Infantry Group is the second Irish Contingent that has been deployed to Undof since September last year.