For the first time since the Syria civil war began 19 months ago, Israel was drawn into the conflict after a stray mortar shell hit an army post within its borders. Israeli forces in the Golan Heights fired into Syria in response, the first time it fired into its neighbor since the 1973 Middle East war, reports the Washington Post. The Israeli military emphasized the mortar fire from Syria caused no damage, was clearly a mistake, and “was not meant to target Israel.”
Meanwhile, as it responded to errant fire in the north, Israel’s south was hit by rockets from Gaza in what could be the beginning of a heightened conflict with Hamas. A missile strike wounded four Israeli troops Saturday, which led to shelling from Israel that killed four Palestinian civilians. As a result, dozens of short-range rockets were fired from Gaza, paralyzing Israel’s border towns and wounding four Israelis Sunday, reports Reuters. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that “we are prepared to intensify the response,” according to Bloomberg.
Even though neither Israel nor Hamas nor Egypt want war, the events of the weekend have “brought all sides to the brink,” warns the Times of Israel. One senior Israeli official said that “a ground incursion is certainly not out of the question,” reports the Telegraph. Coming months before Israelis are set to go to the polls in January, there’s fear that this latest escalation could lead to an all-out ground war between Israel and Hamas, warns the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Israel’s firing of warning shots into Syria once again raised concern over the possibility that the Syria conflict could drag in neighboring countries. The possibility that Israel could be drawn into a regional scuffle “is one of the worst-case scenarios for the civil war,” points out the Associated Press.