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Israel strikes Syria after new rocket attacks amid Al Aqsa tensions

The Israeli military has said three more rockets were launched from Syria toward Israel, raising to six the number of missiles fired within hours in a rare attack from Israel’s northeastern neighbour.

Israel’s army said early on Sunday it was hitting Syria with artillery strikes on the area from where the rockets were fired at Israel.

“The strike was carried out in response to the rockets fired towards Israeli territory,” the army said in statement.

Israeli jets hit Syrian military compound and radar systems and artillery posts after rockets were launched towards Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, said Israeli military.

Syrian air defences confronted Israeli missile attack south of the country and intercepted some of them, Syrian Defence Ministry said.

The rocket firings come after days of escalating violence on multiple fronts over tension in occupied East Jerusalem stemming from Israeli police raids on Al Aqsa Mosque — Islam’s third-holiest site. 

READ MORE: Syria rockets fired as Israel troops kill Palestinian man in West Bank

In the second barrage, two of the rockets crossed the border into Israel, with one being intercepted and the second landing in an open area, the military said. 

In the first attack, one rocket landed in a field in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Fragments of another destroyed missile fell into Jordanian territory near the Syrian border, Jordan’s military reported.

There were no reports of casualties.

Golan Heights, occupied by Israeli soldiers and bordering Lebanon, was seized from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day Arab-Israeli war. Israel later annexed it in a move that was never recognised by the international community.

Meanwhile, a Damascus-based Palestinian group loyal to the Syrian regime claimed responsibility for launching the three missiles on Israel in Saturday, reported Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV.

The report quoted Al Quds Brigade, a group different than the larger Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s armed wing with a similar name, as saying it fired the rockets to retaliate for the police raids on Al Aqsa Mosque.

In Syria, an adviser to Bashar al Assad described the rocket strikes as “part of the previous, present and continuing response to the brutal enemy.”

Earlier, Jordan warned Israel of “catastrophic consequences” if it continued violation of historical and legal status quo at Al Aqsa Mosque compound that allows only Muslim worship at the site — Islam’s third-holiest after Mecca and Medina.

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Israel mobilises troops

The Israeli violence and rocket fire comes as the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, Jewish Passover, and Christian Easter coincide.

Israeli police said four reserve battalions of border police would be deployed in city centres from Sunday.

Israel confirmed late on Saturday it had mobilised soldiers to support the police, and that it would tighten entry restrictions into Israel for Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza, in particular workers.

Palestinians accuse Israel of systematically working to Judaise occupied East Jerusalem, where Al Aqsa is located, and obliterate its Arab and Islamic identity.

Violence emanating from decades of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands has intensified since the new government of veteran PM Netanyahu took power in December, a coalition with extreme right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties.

Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It vacated from Gaza in 2005 and has since imposed a harsh blockade from land, air and sea on the tiny Palestinian enclave.

Over 700,000 illegal Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

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