An IDF vehicle in which Israeli troops were making a routine patrol along the border with Syria on Saturday night was hit by a bullet, apparently fired in error in their direction.
The Israeli troops fired back with “heavy fire,” Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
There were no injuries on the Israeli side, and no immediate word of injuries on the Syrian side.
The incident took place at Tel Hazeka, scene of several such incidents in recent days.
Israeli media reported that the decision to fire directly back at the Syrian troops was approved by the IDF’s Chief of the General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
Saturday night’s return fire followed the same policy of responding firmly and immediately to spillover violence, military sources said.
Last Sunday, when a mortar fired from the same area fell inside Israeli territory, the IDF fired a high-precision Tammuz anti-tank missile toward the Syrian mortar battery, but deliberately aimed adjacent to the Syrian troops, hoping that this would constitute sufficient warning to put an end to the errant mortar fire. When Monday’s mortar fall demonstrated that the warning had not been registered, the decision was taken to fire back directly at the source of Syrian fire, Israeli military sources said. The mortar shell that sparked Monday’s incident also landed near Tel Hazeka.
Hamas’s armed wing reported Saturday evening that it has prepared its combat forces in Gaza to engage the IDF, and warned that it would deploy “suicide units,” amid reports of an Israeli callup of 75,000 reserve soldiers.
Also Saturday, Hamas put out a video threatening in Hebrew to resume suicide bombings inside Israel.
The Al-Qassam Brigades elaborated on their fighting forces, which include units to “protect the borders of Gaza from Zionist incursions”; observation units assigned with targeting Israeli ground movements; and special units trained at close combat with IDF soldiers “relying on the tunnels.”
The Brigades also announced the deployment of suicide units and the creation — for the first time — of women suicide forces to confront Israeli soldiers, the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center reported.
A spokesman for the Al-Qassam Brigades, Abu-Ubaida, vowed to inflict “more serious” blows to Israel in the coming days, in a statement published on the movement’s website.
Israeli officials said Saturday evening that Jerusalem is not currently interested in a ceasefire in the four-day conflict with Hamas, adding that the IDF’s campaign might be expanded and could continue for weeks, if necessary. Operation Pillar of Defense would only end after Hamas had been dealt a serious blow, they vowed, as the fourth day of the offensive came to an end.
The IDF’s OC Southern Command Tal Russo said earlier Saturday that Israel had delivered a serious blow to Hamas’s rocket infrastructure — and wiped out much of its long-range rocket capacity — but added that the IDF still had many targets left to hit. Hamas, he said, had built up “an impressive” arsenal.