Israel has acknowledged that its state-of-the-art, multi-tiered air defense network had failed to intercept a Soviet air-defense missile launched by Syria.
The missile, a 5V21-type of an S-200 air-defense system, was launched by the Syrian Arab Air Defense Forces at Israeli warplanes preparing to launch airstrikes on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, early on April 22. The missile missed its target but went on to land some 250 km deep in Israel, 40 km away from the Dimona nuclear reactor.
During a press conference in Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz acknowledged that the military had failed to intercept the stray Syrian missile.
“The IDF worked to prevent a potential strike on critical assets in the State of Israel. A SA-5-model of surface-to-air missile was fired, passed through the area,” Gantz said. “There was an attempt to intercept it, which did not succeed. We are still investigating the event.”
Gantz did not explain how Israel’s complex and expensive air-defense network, which consists of dozens of Iron Dome, David Sling, Patriot and Arrow batteries, had failed to intercept a missile developed in the Soviet Union all the way back in the 60s.
Israel responded to the incident by targeting the Syrian S-200 battery which launched the missile. Several other targets were also struck.
The Syrian Arab News Agency reported that four Syrian service members were injured as a result of Israel’s retaliatory strikes. However, pro-government sources revealed that an officer, 1st Lt. Bassel Khadur, was killed in the strikes.
The exact circumstances of what happened early on April 22 between Israel and Syria are yet to be revealed. However, there is no doubt that the incident exposed some serious problems in the Israeli air-defense network, which costed the country as well as the US billions of dollars.