A long-range ballistic missile was test fired Thursday morning from the Palmahim Air Force Base in the center of the country. Thousands of residents reported viewing the launching from their homes and cars just after 8 AM.
The Defense Ministry refused to provide details concerning the type of missile and the purpose it served, but said that the experiment tested the missile's rocket propulsion system and was successful.
Palmahim Base is the launch pad for a wide-range of Israel's missiles, including the Arrow Missile Defense System and the Shavit satellite launcher which, according to foreign sources, is an offshoot of the long-range Jericho surface-to-surface missile.
Foreign media have reported that the Jericho is a component of Israel's missile arsenal that is capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Witnesses driving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem reported seeing the missile take off in the distance and streak across the sky.
They reported seeing a missile take off and that, in midair, its engine shut down and then reignited.
This is standard for two-stage long-range ballistic missiles.
According to foreign reports, Israel has upgraded the Jericho surface-to-surface missile - initially developed in the 1960s - and is in the process of completing the development of the Jericho III, with a range of over 5,000 kilometers and capable of carrying a 1,000-kilogram warhead, including a nuclear device. Foreign reports say that the Jericho has been test-fired from the Palmahim air force base in the past.