The launching system is seen on an inactive version of Israel's air defense system, David's Sling, jointly developed with the United States, at a media event during a joint exercise between the two counties in Hatzor air base near Tel Aviv February 25, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)
Israel used its David’s Sling interceptor system for the first time on Monday, launching two missiles against SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missiles fired from Syria as part of the internal fighting in the war-torn country.
Red alert incoming-rocket sirens sounded across the North on Monday morning, first in Safed and the Galilee region at 10:05 a.m. and moments later in the Golan Heights and Katzrin. Sirens wailed again in the Galilee and Golan less than half an hour later.
“The alarms that were heard in northern Israel were the result of launches that were carried out as part of the internal fighting in Syria,” the IDF said.
“As a result, two David’s Sling interceptors were fired at the rockets, as there was a fear they could strike Israeli territory. The Syrian rockets landed inside Syrian territory. No damage was caused, and there were no injuries,” the military said.
Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat said the city would open bomb shelters to provide a “sense of security” for residents.
He stressed that the routine in the city would continue and that there would be no disruptions to summer camps and summer activities as he had not been instructed by the Home Front Command to open the shelters.
The SS-21 ballistic missiles, which carry a half-ton warhead, were detected by Israel’s aerial defense system when they were fired from southeastern Syria. The decision to intercept them was made by the IDF when it was believed that their trajectory would see them fall near Lake Kinneret.
When the system determined that they would not hit Israeli territory, one of the interceptor missiles was ordered to self-destruct over Israel’s southern Golan Heights. It is still not clear whether the other missile was intercepted by David’s Sling.
One SS-21 missile fell inside Syria, one kilometer from the border with Israel.
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The defense establishment is currently investigating the event in order to determine whether the use of the system could be defined as a success.
Residents shared videos on social media of a possible launch of what was thought to be a Patriot missile. Israel launched two Patriot missiles two weeks ago toward drones that infiltrated into Israel from Syria, one of which flew 10 km. before being shot down over the Kinneret.
David’s Sling, formerly known as “Magic Wand,” is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and medium- to long-range rockets, as well as cruise missiles fired from ranges of 40-300 km.
Each interceptor launched by the system, which became operational last April, costs about $1 million. •
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