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WASHINGTON – The gunshots and mortar shells fired at soldiers on the Israeli-occupied portion of the Golan Heights recently may have come from Islamists who have begun to fill the void left by the departure of Syrian troops from the area, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Israel responded with an artillery barrage into Syria, aimed at the source of the mortar firings.

No Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded in the exchange.

“A direct hit was identified,” according to a statement by the Israeli national police in Jerusalem.

Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Yaalon said that Israel would retaliate against any nation or terrorist group that attacks its territory.

“We shall not allow in any form the establishment of a routine of sporadic firing at our civilians or our forces,” Yaalon said.

Since the civil war began in Syria almost three years ago, there has been periodic shelling from the Golan Heights.

Israel, however, is concerned that jihadist elements among the rebels fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are taking advantage of the conflict to attack the Jewish state.

During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel seized the Golan Heights from Syria and annexed it as part of Israel in 1981 – an action that still hasn’t been recognized by the United Nations.

Israel has become increasingly concerned with the Golan Heights being used by jihadists as a staging ground to launch attacks, now that Syrian soldiers recently have been withdrawn to fight the rebels in other areas of Syria, especially around Damascus.

As a consequence, it has jeopardized the presence of United Nations peacekeeping troops there, raising the prospect that Israel may have to intervene in the conflict to fight the rebels. Austrians comprise most of the U.N. observer force on the Golan Heights.

However, they and other countries are having second thoughts about remaining.

The eastern border of the Golan is an area of high ground that had been occupied by four Syrian army divisions. These troops have been partially replaced with less-trained troops. The redeployment of two Syrian divisions amounts to some 20,000 soldiers.

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