The explosion of a surface-to-air missile in southern Israel near the clandestine Dimona nuclear site early on Thursday alarmed the local officials and regional actors.
No report on the potential damages to the nuclear reactor have been published yet, while the warning sirens could be heard in the area for minutes. Israel reportedly tracked the missiles and targeted the base from which the missile was launched.
The missile that landed near the Israeli nuclear plant was a surface-to-air missile. The projectile is typically used to defend against warplanes or intercept other missiles. This may indicate that the missile ran in an erroneous direction after missed to hit its original target on the air.
Israel’s nuclear plant in the Negev desert is some 185 miles away in south of Damascus. Such long distance for a surface-to-air missile knocks out hypothesis about the erroneous direction.
In an immediate response to the incident, the Israel Defense Forces tweeted “A surface-to-air missile was fired from Syria to Israel’s southern Negev. In response, we struck the battery from which the missile was launched and additional surface-to-air batteries in Syria.”
The Israeli retaliatory operation was planned from the Golan Heights. “Positions in the vicinity of Damascus” were targeted in the early hours of Thursday, according to a Syrian official media. Israeli rockets struck the Syrian government’s air defense base in Dmeir, 25 miles northeast of Damascus, British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) confirmed.
SOHR also said that the air defense batteries were destroyed while no detail about the potential casualties have been reported yet. The institute also attributed targeting Demir reservoir with some reports about weapons depots in the region owned by militias affiliated or trusted by Iran.
Reports also indicate that most of the Israeli missile were tracked and intercepted by Syrian batteries. Sana, a state-owned Syrian media also confirmed some soldiers were wounded and scattered “material losses” were suffered.
Despite no immediate public announcement on the Israeli casualties or property destruction were made by officials in Tel Aviv, sounding sirens that were heard near Abu Qrenat village in the vicinity of the Dimona nuclear site, is indicative of the depth of a potential crisis.
Israel has never revealed details about its nuclear arsenal, but independent analysts estimate that it has between 100 and 300 nuclear warheads. That means Dimona nuclear site could be the center of a massive, maybe unprecedented, humanitarian crisis, if the Syrian missiles were to hit the target.
Israel has conducted regular strikes in Syria since the beginning of civil war, primarily targeting Iranian and Lebanese affiliated groups besides government forces.
Israel has long fought to deter Iran from setting up shop in the war-torn country. And, despite the fact that the IDF has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria, it only acknowledges them officially.
Israel has long fought to deter Iran from reinforcing its position in the war-torn country. IDF has carried out hundreds of raids in Syria, while it mostly evades from acknowledge them officially.
The recent missile launch occurs as the escalation of Israel-Iran tensions are spiking at an all-time peak, after Iranian officials vowed “revenge” in the wake of what it called “nuclear terrorism” in Natanz uranium enrichment facility.
A week earlier, Tehran confirmed reports about an obliterating explosion in Natanz facility’s electricity distribution where massive blackout damaged centrifuges harshly. Iran blamed Israel for the explosion, while Israeli officials implicitly confirmed their role.
Israel did not take responsibility for the attack, although unconfirmed local media outlets said it was the result of a “cyber operation” carried out by Israeli security forces.
According to the New York Times, there was also an “Israeli role” in the attack, citing unidentified US and Israeli intelligence officials.