IDF: Errant Syrian anti-aircraft missile explodes over Israel, no interceptions made
An anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria exploded in the air over northern Israel after midnight on Tuesday, setting off warning sirens in the town of Umm al-Fahm and communities in the northern West Bank, announced the army.
Residents reported hearing a loud explosion in the area. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Shrapnel landed near the Homesh settlement outpost, sparking a small fire, according to Rescuers Without Borders, a Jewish emergency service operating in the West Bank
Warning sirens sounded minutes after Syrian state media SANA said air defenses had engaged “hostile targets” near Damascus.
The IDF said that in response to the missile penetrating Israeli airspace, Israel struck several Syrian anti-aircraft sites inside Syria, including “Syrian radars and anti-aircraft batteries that launched missiles on IAF planes”.
“The IDF will continue to protect Israel’s airspace and security,” the statement said.
A later SANA report, citing military sources, said one soldier was killed and five injured in the strikes.
He said Israel carried out two separate strikes, with jets firing missiles from southeast Beirut into neighboring Lebanon. About 15 minutes later, a second barrage of ground-to-ground rockets was fired from the Golan Heights at targets in the Damascus area.
—Joe Truzman (@JoeTruzman) February 8, 2022
“Our air defenses met the aggressor’s missiles and shot down some of them,” the report said, adding that in addition to casualties, the strikes caused “property damage.”
Analysts generally dismiss these claims of downing Israeli missiles – heard after almost every airstrike – as false and empty boasts.
Reports from Lebanon said Israeli jets were seen in the sky at the time of the incident.
There was no comment from the IDF on the alleged initial strikes, in accordance with its policy of ambiguity regarding its activities in Syria.
Errant Syrian anti-aircraft missiles have hit Israel before, with one even landing in nearby Cyprus.
— univers_parallèle (@ignis_fatum) February 8, 2022
In April last year, a Syrian missile also exploded in mid-air, but only after flying through much of Israeli airspace and eventually sending fragments crashing down, with pieces landing in the community of Ashalim, some 40 kilometers from the Dimona nuclear reactor, without causing injury or significant damage.
An IDF attempt to intercept this missile failed.
Israel’s alleged use of surface-to-surface missiles – instead of munitions fired from aircraft – has been linked to a recent meeting between Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin, one of the dictator’s key allies Syrian Bashar Assad who supplied much of Damascus’ air defense system. To avoid embarrassing Russia and its military technology, Israel reportedly agreed to rely less on airstrikes, which had repeatedly defeated Russian batteries.
Israel has staged hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled Syria over the years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. Many strikes in the past have targeted the main airport in the capital Damascus, through which Iran is also believed to transfer advanced weapons to its proxies.
Israel has acknowledged that it is targeting the bases of Iranian forces and Iran-allied terror groups, particularly along the Golan border, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has fighters deployed in southern Syria. He says he is also attacking arms shipments supposedly destined for these groups.
Hezbollah is fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the decade-long civil war.