JERUSALEM (Reuters) - At least two rockets from Syria hit the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights on Tuesday and Israel returned fire, the military said, nine days after an Israeli air strike in Syria killed an Iranian general and several Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.
An Israeli military spokesman said the army “responded with artillery towards the positions that launched the attack” and that it ordered the evacuation of Israel’s Mt. Hermon ski resort on the Golan Heights after the rockets struck.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility or any report of casualties.
“It does not seem that it was errant fire,” Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, told Reuters.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters U.S. officials “do not want to see an escalation of the situation.” Psaki said the United States calls “upon all parties to avoid any action that would jeopardize the long-held ceasefire between Israel and Syria.”
“We support Israel’s legitimate right to self defense and have been clear about our concerns over the regional instability caused by the crisis in Syria,” Psaki added.
Meanwhile, Iran has told the United States last week’s air strike crossed “red lines” and that it will respond, IRNA news agency on Tuesday quoted a senior official as saying.
“We told the Americans that the leaders of the Zionist regime should await the consequences of their act,” deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said.
“In this message to the Americans we said that the Zionist regime had crossed our red lines,” he said.
In the Israeli air strike on a Hezbollah convoy near the Golan Heights on Jan. 18, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard general, Mohammed Allahdadi, was killed along with a Hezbollah commander and the son of the group’s late military leader, Imad Moughniyeh.
Both Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, and the Revolutionary Guards vowed to avenge the deaths.
Since the air strike, troops and civilians in northern Israel and the Golan Heights have been on heightened alert and Israel has deployed an Iron Dome rocket interceptor unit near the Syrian border.
Israel captured the Golan from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Mortar shells and rockets have struck the heights numerous times during Syria’s nearly four-year-old civil war.
Israel has said some of those incidents deliberately targeted its soldiers while others were spillover from fighting between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Reporting by Maayan Lubell and Allyn Fisher-Ilan; Additional reporting by Will Dunham in Washington; Writing by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by James Dalgleish