Israel activates missile defense system after Syria rockets
By TIA GOLDENBERG
Jul. 23, 2018
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel activated a joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor for the first time on Monday in response to rockets from the fighting in neighboring Syria that were believed to be headed for Israeli territory.
The system, dubbed David's Sling, is meant to counter the type of medium-range missiles that Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah militants have and rounded out Israel's multi-layer aerial defense system when it became operational in 2017.
Its activation came after Israel on two separate occasions this month fired Patriot missiles at incoming drones from Syria.
The Israeli military said two interceptors were launched after rockets from the fighting in Syria were identified. No injuries or damage was reported, and the military says the rockets landed in Syrian territory.
The incident set off sirens throughout northern Israel and residents were forced to rush into shelters.
A defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the event with the media, said Israel had identified two surface-to-surface SS-21 rockets launched from Syria carrying a payload of hundreds of kilograms that they believed were headed for Israeli-controlled territory.
The official said the rockets were likely aimed at Syrian rebels fighting the government and they eventually landed just one kilometer from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
He said the sirens were set off when one of the interceptors self-destructed. He called the incident the system's "first successful operational interception."
David's Sling's addition last year marked the completion of Israel's multi-tier system that includes the Arrow, designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles in the stratosphere with an eye on Iran, and Iron Dome, which defends against short-range rockets from the Gaza Strip.
David's Sling was developed by Israeli defense firm Rafael with American defense giant Raytheon.
Monday's incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country's border from Syria.
In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.