The Israeli army has accused the Syrian government of instructing a Palestinian group to fire dozens of rockets at Israel from Gaza with Iran’s support, and vowed to respond where it chose.
“The rockets that were launched against Israel… we know that the orders, incentives were given from Damascus with the clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force,” army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said on Saturday, referring to Iran’ foreign operations unit.
Conricus told reporters Israel’s response would not be “limited geographically”.
Israeli fighter jets struck dozens of sites across the Gaza Strip early on Saturday as fighters fired about 30 rockets into Israel, in the heaviest exchange of fire in several weeks.
The fighting followed a bloody day of border protests, in which Israeli forces shot and killed five Palestinians protesting along the perimeter fence dividing Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel.
The clash complicated the mission of Egyptian mediators, who have intensified shuttle diplomacy to achieve calm and prevent a full-blown conflict between Hamas and Israel.
The Israeli military said it had struck about 80 sites across Gaza by early Saturday morning, including a security headquarters building. Air raid sirens sounded throughout the night in southern Israel, with firing some 30 rockets, the military said.
It said about 10 rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome rocket defence system, two landed prematurely in Gaza and the rest fell in open areas. Israel’s military chief, General Gadi Eisenkot, convened an emergency meeting of top security officials, the army added, without elaborating.
Islamic Jihad, a smaller group, implicitly claimed responsibility for the rocket fire. It issued a statement saying that it normally exercises restraint, but it “can no longer stand idle before the continued killing of innocents and bloodshed by the Israeli occupation”.