Missile strikes near Negev nuclear plant
A missile launched from Syria struck southern Israel yesterday, setting off air raid sirens near the country’s top-secret nuclear reactor, the Israeli military said. In response, it said it attacked the missile launcher and air-defence systems in neighbouring Syria.
The incident, marking the most serious violence between Israel and Syria in years, pointed to likely Iranian involvement. Iran, which maintains troops and proxies in Syria, has accused Israel of a series of attacks on its nuclear facilities, including sabotage at its Natanz nuclear facility on April 11, and vowed revenge. It also threatened to complicate Us-led attempts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran.
The Israeli army said the missile landed in the Negev region and the air raid sirens were sounded in Abu Krinat, a village just a few kilometres from Dimona, where Israel’s nuclear reactor is located, and explosions were reported across Israel. The army later said the incoming missile had caused no damage.
The Israeli military initially described the weapon fired as a surface-to-air missile, which is usually used for air defence against warplanes or other missiles. That could suggest the Syrian missile had targeted Israeli warplanes but missed and flown off errantly. However,
Dimona is some 300km south of Damascus, a long range for an errantly fired surface-to-air missile.
Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said four soldiers had been wounded in an Israeli strike near Damascus, which also caused some damage. The agency did not elaborate other than to claim its air defence intercepted ‘‘most of the enemy missiles,’’ which it said were fired from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the missile strike or comment from Iran. But on Saturday, Iran’s hard-line Kayhan newspaper published an opinion piece by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei suggesting Israel’s Dimona facility be targeted after the attack on Natanz. Zarei cited the idea of ‘‘an eye for an eye’’ in his remarks. Action should be taken ‘‘against the nuclear facility in Dimona,’’ he wrote. ‘‘This is because no other action is at the same level as the Natanz incident.’’ – AP