Thursday morning around 2 a.m. local time – that’s 7 p.m. Wednesday evening for those in America’s Eastern time zone – a Syrian missile exploded in Israel, shaking houses and setting off air raid sirens. Initially, no one seemed to know what was happening, and there was much speculation online. Some suggested that Syria launched a Fateh-110, a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile developed by Iran. However, the Israeli military later clarified that it was an SA-5 surface-to-air missile, and that an Israeli Patriot missile had intercepted it.
“Due to a surface to air missile entering Israeli territory, air defense systems were activated,” read a statement by the IDF. The Syrian missile had been fired at an Israeli jet that missed the target and continued on into Israel, but was not directed at any ground target, according to Brig.Gen. Hidai Zilberman. The missile exploded above the southern Negev, and air raid sirens sounded in a village near Dimona, home to Israel’s nuclear reactor. The Israeli Army claimed the incoming missile caused no damage. Explosions were reported all across the nation and, according to Iran’s Fars News, the sirens and explosion could be heard as far as the Gaza Strip, Modi’in, and West Bank and Jerusalem. A video was posted to Twitter, showing the explosion.
Video of the interception over the southern Negev earlier. Still unclear what’s happening. pic.twitter.com/S1wEvCL3hB
— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) April 21, 2021
Israel responded to the missile with an attack on several anti-aircraft batteries in Syria, including the one that fired the rogue SA-5. Syria’s state news agency claimed that air defenses intercepted the rockets and downed most of them.
Israel had been strengthening the air defenses around the Dimona reactor in preparation for an attack by Iran, another long-time enemy that has acted more and more aggressively this year. Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei suggested the Dimona facility – widely believed to be the center of an undeclared nuclear weapons program – be destroyed. Iran recently began enriching small amounts of uranium to 60% purity, higher levels than their program has ever achieved before – and disturbingly close to weapons grade.
It is unclear as of yet how Syria will respond to the retaliatory rocket attack on its missile batteries in the Damascus region.
Read more from James Fite.