Hundreds of Israelis nationwide flooded police hotlines Thursday evening with reports of an unidentified flying object in the nation's skies.
Later Thursday, Russian news agency Novosti quoted the Defense Ministry in Moscow, which confirmed that a missile was test-fired from the Astrakhan region in central Russia. The trail of light seen in Israel was also reported in Armenia, Turkey, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries in the region.
According to a statement issued by Russia's Defense Ministry, crews belonging to the army's strategic missile division successfully test-fired a ballistic missile at 9:39 pm, Moscow time. A video shot in the area the missile was fired from showed parts of the missile falling. However, the clip was removed a few minutes after being posted.
Israeli Astronomical Association Chairman Dr. Yigal Pat-El said that it is quite possible that the unidentified flying object reported by residents nationwide was a ballistic missile test.
"It most likely spun out of control and its remnants and the fuel was what people saw. It reached a height of 200-300 kilometers and that's why it was seen from so many locations," he told Ynet.
"We saw a large trail of light traveling from a distant spot in the sky," Dorit from northern Israel reported earlier. "We could not see the source of the light. The trail was massive. It was an unusual sight. Moments later we saw swirling movement where the light was coming from."
Concerned citizens in Armenia and Lebanon also called their local police stations after seeing the unusual glowing light. One Lebanese citizen reported seeing the light in the sky and in response an American web-surfer said it might be a military test. The Lebanese woman laughingly responded with: "A military test? Here?"
Notably, similar reports were received in Norway in 2009, following a failed Russian missile test. At the time, residents offered various explanations, ranging from a meteor to a UFO.
Abigail Looshi, Lee Feller, Ariel Danieli, Polina Garaev and Yaron Druckman contributed to the story
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