An Israeli soldier stands atop a tank near Alonei Habashan
on the Israeli occupied Golan Heights, close to the
ceasefire line between Israel and Syria. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
An attack from inside Syria has killed a 13-year-old
Israeli boy on the occupied Golan Heights, the first fatality
on Israel's side of the frontier since the Syrian civil war
began, relatives and the military said.
Israeli tanks fired at Syrian army positions in response to
what an Israeli military spokesman described as an
intentional attack. Israel launched more strikes later from
the air and land at nine Syrian army positions, including a
military headquarters, the army said. It confirmed direct
hits on the targets.
The Defence Ministry said the teenager, an Arab citizen of
Israel from a village in the Galilee, had accompanied his
father, one of the ministry's civilian contractors, to the
Golan, and that two other people were wounded in the
Israeli officials initially said the boy, Mohammed Qaraqara,
was 15. Relatives said he was 13. "He was an excellent
student, everyone loved him," his cousin, Salah Qaraqara, 52,
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the attackers of
indiscriminate killing of Israeli citizens.
"The enemies of the state of Israel use all means, they don't
hesitate to attack civilians and kill children ... they do
not differentiate between Israel's Jewish and non-Jewish
citizens," he said.
A military spokeswoman said an anti-tank missile fired from
Syria across the frontier fence on the Golan had struck the
water tanker in which Qaraqara had been travelling.
"This is the most substantial event that we have had on the
border with Syria since the beginning of the (Syrian civil)
war," a military spokesman said.
Shelling from the Syrian civil war has occasionally spilled
over onto the Golan, including what Israel has said were
deliberate attacks on its troops. Israel captured the western
part of the plateau from Syria in a 1967 war and annexed it
in a move that is not internationally recognised.
While the Syrian army has a presence on the Golan, some areas
are controlled by rebels fighting to topple President Bashar
al-Assad, including al Qaeda-inspired militants hostile to
the Jewish state.
Israel says Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon are also
operating, on Assad's behalf, on the Golan. Israeli officials
have voiced concern that Israel will increasingly become a
target during and after the Syrian conflict.
Last March, four Israeli soldiers were wounded in a roadside
bombing along the Golan frontier. Israel responded to that
incident by launching air strikes against Syrian military