The rocket-battered residents of southern Israel may soon have company in their war of attrition with Arab forces, as cross-border violence in the northern Golan Heights on Sunday reached the point that Israel was forced to return fire on Syrian forces.
Early Sunday morning, Syrian forces engaged in that country's civil war, fired a mortar shell that hit an Israeli army post in the Golan Heights. It was only the latest in a series of purportedly accidental cross-border attacks. Having had enough of the provocations, Israel responded by firing an anti-tank missile at a Syrian army installation just across the border.
Israel also filed a complaint with the United Nations, which has thousands of "peacekeeping" troops in a demilitarized zone separating Syria from the Golan. There was no immediate response from the world body.
At the same time, the Golan Regional Council ordered local communities to begin preparing for an escalation, and to ready bomb shelters and other emergency equipment.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that at present he does not consider the situation a "cardinal threat" and local community leader did not expect the fighting with Syrian forces to go beyond sporadic border skirmishes. However, there is a larger concern that if the violence between Israel and Syria reaches a certain level, Lebanon's Hizballah terrorist militia, which has involved itself in the civil war, will unleash its missile arsenal on northern Israel.