Israeli Air-defenses Activated After Syrian Missiles Detected Heading Into Israeli Territory

Israel made its first operational use of the David’s Sling missile defense system Monday morning when it identified the launch of two Syrian surface-to-surface missiles, the military said.

An initial army investigation found that the David’s Sling air-defense system identified the launch of two SS-21 missiles, calculating they will likely land south of the Kinneret. An Israeli commander at the rank of lieutenant colonel decided to intercept the missiles.

The military investigation found that, while airborne, one of the Syrian missiles changed course and was expected to fall in Syrian territory. Therefore, one of the interceptor missiles was ordered to self-destruct. Israel also launched another interceptor missile at the second Syrian rocket, but it was still unclear if it hit its target.

Earlier Monday, residents in northern Israel reported hearing anti-aircraft batteries being activited, saying a trail of smoke was seen in the sky, shortly after sirens were set off across northern Israel, in the city of Safed and in areas near Mt. Hermon. Later, more sirens sounded in the Golan Heights city of Katzrin and in a nearby regional council.

A David’s Sling interceptor missile costs between 700,000 shekels ($192,000) to 1 million shekels. The military insists that when launching defense missiles it does not take into consideration the financial costs involved.

This is the first operational use of the David’s Sling missile defense system, also known as Magic Wand. The system, which the military declared operational last year, was developed by Israel’s government-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems in cooperation with the U.S. defense contractor Raytheon, and is designed to intercept medium-range missiles. It is an additional layer of defense against short- and medium-range missiles and rockets, in addition to Iron Dome and Patriot and Arrow missiles. It can also intercept unmanned aerial vehicles from afar.

Over the last month there were two incidents of Patriot missiles launched at a drone approaching Israel from Syria. On June 24, a Patriot battery fired at a drone. An Assad regime commander said at the time that the drone was on a mission in southern Syria.

On July 13, a Patriot missile was launched at an aircraft entering the buffer zone between Israel and Syria. The Israeli military said it was likely shot down.

In recent days the Syrian regime has expanded its operation to retake control of the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and a large part of the local rebel militias have surrendered.

Aided by the Russian air force, the Assad regime’s is now focused on the Israel-Joran-Syria border triangle in the southern Golan Heights, where the regime seeks to quash some 1,000 fighters of a local ISIS branch.


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