An initial investigation conducted by the Israeli Air Force revealed that the Syrian missile was supposed to fall in the Jordan Valley. The unusual event occurred on Friday morning, after which Israel was forced to admit that Syria had fired an anti-aircraft missile at the jets attacking a Syrian military outpost in the country. The target of the assault was apparently a concealed weapons delivery bound for Hezbollah.
The Syrian missile launch was carried out from a base near the city of Homs, approx. 400 kilometers from the northern Jordan Valley. According to the findings of the investigation, around 2:40am, less than a minute after the Syrian missile was detected and identified as a threat, the aerial defense forces took the initiative to launch the Arrow.
“It is a heavy-weight Syrian armament," said a senior officer in the Air Force on Monday, clarifying that the Israeli response was justified.
"We didn’t care if it was a surface-to-surface missile or a surface-to-air missile. There were no dilemmas or doubts, no budgetary considerations. The missile was supposed to hit the Jordan Valley. The Arrow was chosen in accordance with the level of threat and the availability of the defense systems on hand. There was no other option except to intercept. We operate with manual control, since you can never know how a given missile would ‘behave’ in flight. Its engine or other components can decompose along the way, changing its intended course,” said the IAF officer.
The official also added that the Syrian missile was outdated and did not pose any threat to the F-15s that carried out an attack shortly beforehand in Syria. "I assume the Syrians did not intend to fire the missile as a ballistic threat, but that's not the point," he said.
This issue was explicitly addressed Monday by the commander of the IAF's Aerial Defense, Brigadier General Zvika Haimovich: "The missile fired posed a threat to Israeli citizens. The guidelines are to protect the people of Israel and that is what we did last week. There are absolutely no dilemmas or question marks when it comes to such situations."
The IAF also revealed Monday that Israel's multi-tier air defense missile system will be fully operational early next month with the deployment of the David's Sling interceptor.
David's Sling, designed to shoot down rockets fired from 100 to 200 kilometres away, will be the final piece of a shield that already includes short-range Iron Dome and long-range Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 missiles.
David's Sling is designed to intercept large targets such as heavy rockets weighing hundreds of kilograms and accurate missiles at ranges of tens to hundreds of kilometers.
David's Sling will be able to protect the majority of the country's territory, as opposed to Iron Dome and the Arrow.
The IDF has taken into account more advanced aerial assault weapons developed by Hamas and Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is why the next versions of Israel’s aerial defense systems will be specifically equipped to deal with such future threats.
(Translated and edited by N. Elias)