Israel’s foreign minister has accused forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being behind an attack that killed an Israeli boy on the occupied Golan Heights.
Avigdor Lieberman’s comments came on Tuesday, two days after an anti-tank missile was fired from Syria across the frontier fence, killing Mohammed Qaraqara, 13.
“We got all the analysis, all the intelligence and it was clear it was Syrian authorities, Assad’s forces, who fired on the Israeli boy … and they must pay the price,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.
It was the first time an Israeli official had said publicly who they believed was responsible for the attack, which Israel had earlier described as intentional and the most serious on the frontier since the start of the three-year-old Syrian conflict.
The attack prompted a military response from Israel, with tanks firing across the border and air raids against Syrian army positions. A monitoring group said the strikes killed 10 Syrian soldiers.
“I hope Damascus got the message,” said Lieberman. “I think Israel responded exactly as we should have, in this case and all others. We cannot just gloss over an Israeli citizen, a boy, being murdered in cold blood with no one being held responsible.”
War spills over
The Syrian army has a presence on the Golan Heights, but many areas are controlled by rebels, including armed groups hostile to Israel.
The Syrian conflict has spilled over into bordering countries and escalated regional tensions. Shelling from Syria has occasionally hit the Golan, including in 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 has not been recognised internationally.