Israeli soldiers walk near a tank in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria.

Israeli soldiers walk near a tank in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights near the Quneitra border crossing, close to the ceasefire line between Israel and Syria. Photo: Reuters

Jerusalem: The Israeli military said that an explosive device intended to target an Israeli patrol in the Golan Heights had detonated near the fence separating Syrian and Israeli-controlled territory, the first such attack since the armistice line was established in 1973.

No one was injured in the explosion just before 5pm on Friday on the eastern side of the fence near the Druse village of Majdal Shams, said Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an Israeli military spokesman. No one claimed responsibility for the explosion, which caused slight damage to an army vehicle patrolling on the western side, Lieutenant Colonel Lerner said.

Errant fire from the Syrian civil war has landed in the Golan Heights scores of times over the past two years, and the Israeli military has responded at least a dozen times to attacks it judged to be intentional. Friday's explosion, Lieutenant Colonel Lerner said, was something different.

"We've had potshots, we've had artillery, we've had mortar, but nothing like this," he said. "This has more of a terrorist-type ring to it - it doesn't seem to be military built."

Syria and Israel remain technically in a state of war, though the armistice line between them has been mostly quiet for the past four decades. Israel has launched airstrikes in Syria several times this year to stop convoys of advanced weapons from being transferred to the Lebanese militia Hezbollah. That has prompted threats from leaders in Syria that they would allow Palestinian groups to wage attacks on Israel through its borders.

Lieutenant Colonel Lerner said Israel had not responded to the attack, because "we don't know who placed it and who used it."

"It could be from anybody in the opposition extremist elements to individuals to Syrian forces," he noted, "anywhere in the spectrum."

In a separate episode, he said that following reports in the Palestinian news media, Israel's military advocate general had ordered an investigation into the death of a Palestinian teenager on Saturday in the West Bank.

According to The Associated Press, a Palestinian man said his 15-year-old son had been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers near Ramallah.

Lerner said that Israeli soldiers had been in the area trying to stop stone-throwing but that it was unclear whether their operations were connected to the teenager's death.

New York Times