Jan. 9, 2003
Jerusalem (ICEJ) — Two Syrian soldiers crossed into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights on Wednesday, the first reported infiltration since September 2001.
Israeli soldiers shot and killed one of the men and captured another. Gen. Avi Mizrahi said a third man fired from inside Syria, but “we didn’t fire back because didn’t want to make the situation worse.”
United Nations observers on the border were unavailable for comment.
Syria charged that Israel opened fire at three Syrians civilians. A military spokesman said the three men were trying to take water from a nearby river. He said Syrian soldiers fired back at the Israelis, adding that an investigation is underway “to take the suitable measures.”
Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 war. Syria demanded all of it back in exchange for peace, but negotiations broke down in 2000.
Meanwhile, Israelâ€™s northern neighbor has been deemed the worldâ€™s second largest sponsor of terrorism, according to a report commissioned by the United States Congress.
“After Iran, Syria is the most active state sponsor of terrorism and is included in the US State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism,” the report said.
On Tuesday, Syria and the US held an unofficial dialogue meant to improve bilateral relations, but on Wednesday Syrian state media rebuked the US for its buildup of troops in the Gulf.
“The US administration’s persistence in dispatching troops to the Gulf region, making threats against Iraq, beating war drums and neglecting all international appeals and calls to avoid military action, have no legal or moral justification and can only be seen as an attempt by Washington to push Arabs to surrender,” the official Al-Thawra newspaper said in an editorial.