Israel and Syria exchanged missile attacks early on Thursday morning, after Damascus launched an advanced surface-to-air missile that landed in the Negev Desert.
Alarms sounded in Abu Qrenat near Dimona in the South.Syria fired the missile in response to what it claims was an Israeli Air Force bombing near Damascus. Israel frequently strikes Syria to prevent Iranian entrenchment in the country as well as weapons shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Reports from across the country, including central Israel and Jerusalem, spoke of “loud explosions” that “shook the houses.”
الانفجار ناجم عن اطلاق صاروخ بتريوت من منطقة موديعين غرب رام الله باتجاه جسم بالسماء pic.twitter.com/4YbL03AejC— شبكة فلسطين للحوار (@paldf) April 21, 2021
The IDF activated its air defense systems in an attempt to intercept the missile, but that attempt failed. The military is investigating why its air defenses failed to intercept the SA-5.
Early reports indicated that the explosion was the result of a Patriot missile defense system battery responding to the firing of the missile into Israel. Missile parts were located on Thursday morning in the swimming pool of the Negev community of Ashalim.
“Due to a surface to air missile entering Israeli territory, air defense systems were activated,” a statement by the IDF read, noting that the military was still investigating the incident.
The SA-5 reportedly landed close to Dimona, not far from the location of Israel’s reportedly secret nuclear reactor.
Video of the interception over the southern Negev earlier. Still unclear what’s happening. pic.twitter.com/S1wEvCL3hB— Anna Ahronheim (@AAhronheim) April 21, 2021
The IDF said that in response to the launch, it attacked several missile batteries in Syria, including the one that fired the projectile that struck Israel territory.
Syria’s state news agency said Syrian air defenses intercepted the Israeli attack that had targeted areas in the Damascus suburbs.
“Air defenses intercepted the rockets and downed most of them,” the agency said, adding that four soldiers were injured in the attack and some material damage took place.
A Syrian military defector said the Israeli strikes targeted locations near the town of Dumair, some 40 km. northeast of Damascus, where Iranian-backed militias have a presence. It is an area that Israel has hit repeatedly in past attacks.
It was unclear at first from where the missile was launched. Several signs indicated it having been launched from Iraq, while according to other reports, it came from the city of Daraa in southern Syria following an Israeli airstrike.
IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman told reporters that the explosion was due to the firing of an SA-5 surface-to-air missile toward Israel from Syria that exploded in the southern Negev.
The firing of the missile came during Israeli airstrikes in southern Syria,” Zilberman said, and that it was an errant missile and not directed toward the Dimona nuclear reactor.
According to the spokesman, Israel responded to the firing of the SA-5 toward IAF jets by striking several anti-aircraft batteries in Syria, including the one that fired the missile that exploded in southern Israel.