By Ze’ev Ben-Yechiel
Tazpit News Agency
An Israeli officer in the Golan Heights was injured this morning (Wednesday, August 27) by stray fire coming from Syria, and a number of evacuations were ordered in the area as fighting in the Syrian civil war continues to spill over into Israel. Israeli forces retaliated several hours later with an artillery strike against Syrian forces.
Shortly before noon, an IDF officer serving in an observation post in the area was injured by mortar fire from the Syrian side. The officer was evacuated to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he is reported to be in moderate condition.
A number of Israeli farms in the Golan Heights were evacuated Wednesday morning, following intensified fighting between the Syrian army and rebel forces in the near the border. The Golan Regional council reported that workers in farms in the Kuneitra Valley were ordered to move away from areas near the border fence due to concerns that the fighting in Syria would spill over into Israeli territory.
Reports also indicated that the lookout point on Mt. Avital, adjacent to Kibbutz Ein Zivan and overlooking the Syrian town of Kuneitra across the border, was also evacuated of civilians. Additional measures included the evacuation of Avital Volcanic Park and the closure of the northern section of Highway 98.
In retaliation for today’s stray mortar fire, IDF forces fired a salvo of artillery at the Syrian position believed to be responsible for launching the mortar. The strike was confirmed by the IDF. The Israeli military maintains a policy of holding the Syrian government responsible for any fire that enters Israeli territory.
In the latest flare-up near the border, locals reported hearing explosions from tank or mortar shells since early morning, coming from the direction of Kuneitra. Tuesday morning, several mortar shells from the fighting in Syria exploded in the town of Aloni Bashan in the Golan Heights. No injuries were reported in that incident.
Kuneitra has been the scene of multiple battles between the Syrian army and opposition forces. Following its brief capture by the rebels in 2013 it fell back into government hands, and remains the last pocket of government resistance in the Golan Heights region of Syria.