Middle East

Teen killed on Israeli-held Golan: ministry

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

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The teenage son of a contractor working for Israel's Defense Ministry was killed on the Golan Heights Sunday when a blast hit a car they were traveling in, the ministry said.

"A 15-year-old Israeli was killed, he was the son of a contractor," a ministry official told AFP, saying the boy was traveling in a car with his father and another contractor at the time.

Both contractors were also injured in the incident, he said, without saying what caused it.

A statement from the Israeli army confirmed that one civilian was killed and another two injured in the "explosion of an Israeli vehicle" on the cease-fire line. It did not give further details.

Initial indications suggest the blast, which took place just south of the Quneitra crossing in the center of the plateau, was caused by a mortar bomb fired from neighboring Syria, a security source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Defense Ministry official had earlier said the victim was a contractor.

Security officials said the two civilian contractors were working on the fence that Israel has been building across the plateau.

One of the contractors was badly injured, the source said, indicating that Israeli troops were returning fire across the ceasefire line.

If confirmed, it would be the first time mortar fire from Syria has caused a fatality on the Israeli side of the strategic plateau.

Israel, which is technically at war with Syria, seized 1,200-square-kilometer of the Golan Heights plateau 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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