Israeli and Syrian forces clashed in the Golan Heights on Tuesday in the most intense border incident since the start of Syria's civil war.
Syrian forces, both those belonging to the regime of Bashar Assad and rebel groups, have fired into the Israeli Golan Heights on a number of occasions over the past year. But until Tuesday, nearly all of those cross-border violations were classified as accidental.
For the first time in decades, Syrian officials on Tuesday confirmed that the Syrian army had purposely engaged Israeli troops on the border. The Syrians claimed to have destroyed an Israeli patrol vehicle, though Israel denied that it had suffered any casualties in the firefight.
Images published by the Hebrew press showed a Syrian force firing into Israel, and then being destroyed by an Israeli missile.
Shortly after the battle, Israeli army chief General Benny Gantz visited the area and stated that Israel "has had enough" of the cross-border attacks, and will make Assad pay.
It is still widely believed that Assad has no desire to provoke a full-scale war with Israel, knowing full well that he cannot fight both the Jewish state and the mounting rebel threat inside his own country. However, Gantz and other Israeli officials expect isolated cross-border incidents to increase significantly in the coming weeks.
* PHOTO: IDF chief Gen. Benny Gantz surveys the Golan border region.
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