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Incident sparks speculation amid swirling tensions with Iran

Big blast at rocket factory jolts central Israel in ‘controlled test’

Government-owned Tomer defense contractor, which manufactures missile motors, says images of explosion are misleading, trial was planned in advance

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

An explosion is seen at a rocket factory in central Israel in which the manufacturer says was a 'controlled test' on April 20, 2021. (Screen capture/Twitter)
An explosion is seen at a rocket factory in central Israel in which the manufacturer says was a 'controlled test' on April 20, 2021. (Screen capture/Twitter)

A large explosion occurred at a state-owned rocket factory in central Israel on Tuesday morning, causing no injuries or damage, in what the defense contractor called a “controlled test.”

The blast sent up a massive plume of fire and smoke outside the central Israeli town of Ramle, which could be seen from miles away.

The explosion took place at the government-owned Tomer defense firm, which manufactures propulsion systems for a variety of rockets and missiles.

Videos of the blast were widely shared on social media, prompting speculation that that it was the result of a malfunction or sabotage, especially in light of ongoing tensions between Israel and Iran. Indeed, the explosion at the sensitive military site was featured prominently in Iranian media, which insinuated that it may have been a form of retaliation by Tehran for the recent blast at its Natanz nuclear facility that has been widely attributed to Israel.

The Israeli defense contractor maintained that the images were misleading and that it was a deliberate explosion as part of a trial.

“This was a controlled test, without any irregular incidents,” a spokeswoman for the firm said.

The explosion was not announced in advance or reported after the fact by the Defense Ministry or the company.

Tomer, which was formed in 2015, serves as the main producer of propulsion systems for some of Israel’s most important missiles and rockets, including the Arrow air defense system, the Shavit satellite launcher and the EXTRA artillery rocket.

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