Army says attackers were 650 feet past ceasefire line but had not crossed main Golan Heights border fence; military later retrieves explosive belts, Kalashnikov rifle at sce
The IDF said it conducted an airstrike late Wednesday night killing seven Islamic State fighters who had crossed the 1974 ceasefire line into Israeli territory.
The gunmen had made it some 200 meters (650 feet) past the “alpha line” but did not manage to make it to the technical fence bordering the Israeli Golan Heights, IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said, correcting an earlier army statement that said the “terror squad” had been in the Syrian Golan Heights when targeted.
A number of explosive belts and a Kalashnikov rifle were found during searches of the area Thursday morning, according to the army.
The gunmen had crossed into the Israeli territory through the Syria-Jordan-Israel border triangle.
According to Army Radio, the gunmen had been en route to an attack on Israel.
Conricus said that there had been no threat to Israeli communities along the northern border, but he did not say whether the IS gunmen were intending to attack Israeli military targets.
The Russia’s Interfax news agency reported Thursday that Russian military police would be deploying along the border between Syria and Israel to prevent further escalation between the sides.
The air raid took place as the IDF was completing a large-scale drill of war scenarios testing the preparedness of the Northern Command and the General Staff.
The army stressed that the exercise had been planned in advance as part of its training program for 2018.
It came just a week after Israeli aircraft destroyed a rocket launcher belonging, according to the army, to the Islamic State after it fired a pair of projectiles that landed in the Sea of Galilee. The IDF said the rockets had been errant fire from internal Syrian fighting, but some analysts have argued that it was an intentional move by IS to lure Israel into a clash with the Syrian army.
A day prior, the IDF said it fired two Patriot missiles at Sukhoi-model jet that had traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace, shooting it down. The plane crashed inside Syria, killing its pilot. According to the IDF, the fighter jet took off from the Iran-linked T-4 air force base in central Syria, which Israel has bombed in the past, and traveled “at high speed” toward the Golan Heights.