Middle East

Stray fire from Syrian Golan hurts Israeli officer

Israeli soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria March 19, 2014. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: An Israeli army officer was moderately injured Wednesday by stray fire from fighting on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights plateau, a military spokeswoman said.

"There was errant fire from the internal fighting in Syria and an officer was moderately wounded in the Golan Heights," a spokeswoman told AFP, saying the fighting was "right next to the border."

The army said six mortar shells had crashed onto the Israeli-occupied half of the plateau in the past few hours, describing it as "errant fire" resulting from heavy fighting very close to the cease-fire line.

The Israeli officer sustained wounds to the chest but the army was not immediately able to say whether it was due to a bullet or shrapnel. He was evacuated by helicopter to Rambam hospital in the northern port city of Haifa.

As a result of the fighting on the Syrian side of the plateau, the level of alert was raised on the Israeli side, she said, without confirming that it had been increased to the highest level.

At least five rockets from Syria hit the Israel side of the plateau Sunday, all of which were due to errant fire, the army said.

In June, an Israeli teenager was killed in a deliberate cross-border attack, which prompted Israeli warplanes to attack Syrian military headquarters and positions.

Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200 square kilometers of the Golan Heights during the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

Since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the plateau has been tense, with a growing number of projectiles, mostly stray, hitting the Israeli side, prompting occasional armed responses.





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