By Tom O’Connor
Amid an ongoing barrage of rockets from Gaza, where the Israel Defense Forces are engaged in an escalating military campaign against Palestinian factions, Israel has also faced rocket fire from Lebanon and most recently Syria, as a raging Middle East conflict threatens to spread across the region.© JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images Israeli soldiers from the Golani Brigade take part in a drill near Moshav Odem in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights on May 11.
“A short while ago, three rockets were fired from Syria into Israeli territory, one of which failed and fell in Syrian territory,” the IDF said Friday in statement sent to Newsweek. “As a result, an alert was activated in open areas only.”
The development comes just a day after the IDF reported three rockets fired from Lebanese territory into the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Galilee. A Lebanese official told Newsweek at the time that those rockets likely originated from a Palestinian refugee camp of Rashidieh, where the Lebanese Armed Forces later discovered three rockets.
Shortly after that incident, Newsweek reached out to Syria’s permanent mission to the United Nations on Thursday asking if a rocket strike may be expected from Syria as well, but has yet to receive a response.
IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters earlier Friday that there were “no Israeli casualties and no damage” inflicted by the strike from Lebanon, but said that Israeli forces were keeping an eye on the country’s northern borders with Lebanon and Syria.
“We continue, of course, to be very vigilant, looking towards the north, the northeast and assessing everything happening there,” Conricus said at the time. “Currently, [there is] no significant change in the situation up in the north, but we are monitoring events closely.”
Later that day, however, pro-Palestinian protesters amassed at the country’s border with Lebanon and crossed the security fence, prompting IDF tank fire that killed one Lebanese citizen and injured another. The act prompted condemnation from Lebanese President Michel Aoun and criticism by the country’s powerful, Iran-backed Hezbollah movement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Syria on Wednesday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad and Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad. In both meetings, the parties condemned Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip.
Iran and allied militias, including Hezbollah, have backed Assad in his decade-long civil war against rebels and jihadis. Israel has accused Iran of using these groups to set up forward bases, and the IDF has conducted hundreds of airstrikes against suspected Iran-linked targets across the neighboring nation.
Israel has also faced several instances of rocket fire from Syria in recent years, operations Israel has blamed on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and its elite Quds Force.
Meanwhile, the conflict over Gaza continued to escalate. The IDF sought to degrade the rocket-launching capabilities of Palestinian factions such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, both of which have received support from Iran. By IDF estimates, nearly 2,000 rockets have been fired, along with other weapons, in the worst violence to emerge from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 2014.
The current conflict erupted earlier this week when Israeli forces cracking down on protests over an attempt by Israeli families to evict Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem culminated in an Israeli raid on the revered Al-Aqsa Mosque, sparking outrage among Palestinians and other Arab and Muslim countries.
Israel remains in a technical state of war with both Lebanon and Syria, the latter of which regularly condemns Israel over its ongoing occupation of the Golan Heights region. The territory was first seized by Israel during a 1967 war, one of three in which a pro-Palestinian coalition of Arab nations fought with Israel.
Two of those warring states, Egypt and Jordan, have declared peace with Israel in the decades since, and four other Arab countries, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, have normalized ties with Israel over the past several months overseen by former President Donald Trump. These countries continue, however, to express support for Palestinians’ claims to lands also claimed by Israel since its 1948 establishment.