David’s Sling anti-missile system used for first time, in false alarm on Golan
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David’s Sling anti-missile system used for first time, in false alarm on Golan

Military says projectiles were fired as part of internal fighting in Syria, did not cross the border, but initially seemed like they might; alarms sound throughout northern Israel

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

A smoke trail of a David's Sling interceptor missile is seen in northern Israel after the interceptor was fired toward a Syrian SS-21 missile, on July 23, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
A smoke trail of a David's Sling interceptor missile is seen in northern Israel after the interceptor was fired toward a Syrian SS-21 missile, on July 23, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

In its first known operational use, two interceptor missiles of the David’s Sling  system were fired at rockets launched from Syria that appeared to be heading toward Israel but ultimately landed inside Syrian territory, the military said.

The Syrian rockets, which were fired as part of internal fighting in the country’s southwest, set off sirens throughout northern Israel on Monday morning, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

“The alarms that were heard in northern Israel were the result of launches that were carried out as part of the internal fighting in Syria,” the army said.

“As a result, two David’s Sling interceptors were fired at the rockets, as there was a fear they could strike Israeli territory. The Syrian rockets… landed inside Syrian territory. No damage was caused, and there were no injuries,” the military said in a statement.

A test of the David’s Sling missile defense system (Defense Ministry)

Fighter jets were also scrambled and flown to the north during the event, according to open-source flight tracking information.

A military spokesperson would not confirm that the aircraft had been called up, saying she “couldn’t comment on air force activities.”

The sirens were first heard in the northern city of Safed and in the Galilee region at 10:05 a.m., according to the Israel Defense Forces.

Three minutes later, additional alarms sounded in communities on the Golan Heights, including the city of Katzrin.

Sirens blared again throughout the Galilee and Golan regions at approximately 10:20 a.m., the military said.

In addition to hearing explosions, residents of northern Israel also reported seeing the trails left behind by Israeli anti-aircraft missiles.

This was the first known use of the David’s Sling system, which was declared operational last year.

The David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense network.

The lowest layer is the Iron Dome system, capable of intercepting short-range rockets, small unmanned aerial vehicles and mortar shells like those that have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip or from southern Lebanon. At the top are the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 systems, which are intended to engage long-range ballistic missiles.

David’s Sling is aimed at filling the gap between these systems, against missiles like the Iranian Fateh 110 and its Syrian equivalent, the M600, both of which have seen extensive use in the Syrian civil war and are known to be in the Hezbollah terrorist group’s arsenal.

In recent weeks, sirens in northern Israel have been triggered by the military shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles entering Israeli airspace from Syria.

On July 13, the Israeli military used an anti-aircraft Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian army drone that was flying over the demilitarized zone separating Israel from Syria.

Two days earlier, a Syrian military unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated some 10 kilometers (six miles) into Israeli territory before it too was shot down by a Patriot missile. The IDF said it had allowed the drone to fly so deeply into Israeli territory as it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the Russian military.

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