Israel attacks Syrian launcher that fired rockets thought to have…

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli jets and artillery on Wednesday attacked a site in Syria from where two rockets were launched which were thought to have landed in the Sea of Galilee, close to beachgoers, the military said.

FILE PHOTO: People paddle on a stand-up paddle board in the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

After air raid sirens sounded in the south of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the army said rockets had been fired from Syria toward Israel. They appeared to be stray fire from the fighting inside Syria.

“In response to the two rockets launched at Israeli territory from Syria, (Israeli) aircraft targeted the rocket launcher. The area surrounding it was targeted by artillery,” an Israeli army statement said.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police units were searching in the waters of the Sea of Galilee for remnants of the rockets, although nothing had been found initially.

FILE PHOTO: A peacock walks next to the Monastery of the Holy Apostles, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, northern Israel November 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

“As I was watching the water, I saw something fall in. I didn’t see what it was but I saw the spray from the impact,” Hasdia Rada, a life guard at one of the lake’s beaches, told Israeli commercial TV news. Another man said he heard a whistling sound before an impact.

There have been many instances of stray fire landing on the Israeli side of the rocky Golan plateau during years of fighting between Syrian rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, but a rocket flying between 7-10 kilometers (4-6 miles) and landing in the lake would be the farthest yet.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after Israel shot down a Syrian warplane that it said had crossed into airspace above the Israeli-occupied Golan. However, Syrian state media said the plane was targeted by Israel while it was conducting raids in Syrian-controlled air space.

There have been days of bombing as Russian-backed Syrian government forces advance on rebel-held positions near the 1974 ceasefire line with Israel. The holdouts include one pocket near the frontier held by a group affiliated to the Islamic State.

Israel worries that Assad may defy a U.N. armistice that demilitarized much of the Golan, or allow Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah forces to deploy there once he and his allies retake the Syrian side.

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