Israel launches artillery attacks on Syria after rocket fire


Israeli military says six rockets were fired from Syrian territory towards Israel, one of which landed in the annexed Golan Heights.

The Israeli military says it has launched artillery attacks on Syria after several rockets were fired from Syrian territory towards northern Israel.

The cross-border exchanges early on Sunday came as violence escalates on multiple fronts, including in Gaza, Lebanon, occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government.

The Israeli military said there were two rounds of rockets launches from Syrian territory in the early hours of Sunday. The first involved three rockets, one of which landed in a field in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.

None of the rockets caused damage or casualties.

The Israeli military said the second launch, which also involved three rockets, set off sirens in northern Israel.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket launches.

The unusual rocket fire from Syria comes against the backdrop of soaring Israeli-Palestinian tensions triggered by an Israeli police raid on Jerusalem’s most sensitive site, the sacred compound home to the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Violent scenes from the raid outraged Palestinians observing the holy fasting month of Ramadan and prompted armed groups in Lebanon and in the Gaza Strip to fire a barrage of rockets into Israel. Israel then bombed several sites that it said belonged to the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon.

The violence come at a time of heightened religious fervor – with Ramadan coinciding with Passover and Easter celebrations. Jerusalem’s Old City, home to key Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, has been teeming with visitors and religious pilgrims from around the world.

On Saturday, Israeli security forces shot and killed a 20-year-old Palestinian in the northern occupied West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Ahed Salim, 20, was hit in the chest and stomach by live fire in Azzun near Qalqilyah, the ministry said.

At the Al-Aqsa compound, some 30,000 people gathered for Ramadan prayers on Saturday night, according to the Wafa news agency, while the Associated Press news agency said several hundred Palestinian worshippers barricaded themselves inside the mosque late in the night amid concerns about a possible repeat of nighttime Israeli police raids this week.

Israelis were also on edge after a car-ramming in Tel Aviv on Friday that killed an Italian man and wounded five other tourists. The Tel Aviv attack came hours after a Palestinian man shot and killed two Israeli sisters and wounded their mother near an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

More than 2,000 police were expected to be deployed in Jerusalem on Sunday – when tens of thousands of Jews are expected to gather at the Western Wall at the Al-Aqsa compound for the special Passover priestly blessing.

The Western Wall is the holiest site where Jews can pray and sits next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.



Al Jazeera and news agencies

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