IAF fighter jet during the Red Flag joint exercise at Nellis air force base in Nevada .
(photo credit: COURTESY IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)
Israel used its Arrow missile defense system for the first time Thursday night after Israeli jets were targeted with Syrian anti-aircraft missiles during an operation over Syria.
In a rare confirmation of Israel carrying out airstrikes in Syria, the IDF said on Friday morning that “several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria during the operation. One of the missiles was intercepted by the air defense systems of the IDF.”
As a result of these activities a rocket alert siren was heard in Aravot HaYarden Regional Council in Israel's Jordan Valley, the army statement added.
The Arrow system has been in use by Israel since the 1990s and in January the Israel Air Force officially took delivery of the first Arrow-3 interceptor, the most advanced Arrow system. Produced by IAI, the Arrow 3 forms the uppermost layer of Israel’s multilayered defense system along with the Arrow 2, David’s Sling and Iron Dome system.
Arrow interceptor test
The Arrow 3 is highly maneuverable system designed to provide ultimate air defense by intercepting ballistic missiles when they are still outside the Earth’s atmosphere and is considered one of the world's best interceptors due to its breakthrough technological capabilities.
Two Reuters witnesses heard an explosion a few minutes later. Another Reuters witness in the central Israeli city of Modiin reported hearing an explosion and a more distant bang was heard from as far away as Jerusalem.
Palestinian militants in Gaza have often fired short-range rockets over the border with Israel and, in the 2014 Gaza war, had fired longer-range rockets that landed deep inside Israel and in the West Bank.
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula have also fired rockets into Israel on occasion.
The border with Syria has been tense since the war erupted in 2011, and while Israel is suspected of carrying out strikes against Hezbollah weapons convoys in Syrian territory, it rarely publicly admits to them.
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