JERUSALEM – A rocket launched from Syria was launched early Thursday in southern Israel, triggering sirens of airstrikes near the country’s secret nuclear reactor, the Israeli army said. In response, he said he attacked the missile launcher and air defense systems in neighboring Syria.
The incident, which marked some of the worst violence between Israel and Syria in recent years, indicated potential Iranian involvement.
Iran, which maintains troops and proxies in Syria, accused Israel of a series of attacks on its nuclear facilities, including sabotage at the Natanz nuclear facility on April 11, and vowed revenge. The attack also threatened to complicate US-led attempts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran.
The Israeli military said it had deployed a missile defense system, but could not confirm whether the received missile was intercepted, although it said there was no damage. The airstrikes were sounded in Abu Krinat, a village just a few kilometers from Dimona, the city in the Negev desert, where Israel’s nuclear reactor is located.
The explosions heard in Israel could have been the air defense systems.
The Israeli military originally described the shotgun as a ground-to-air missile, which is usually used for air defense against warplanes or other missiles. This could suggest that the Syrian missile was aimed at Israeli warplanes, but it failed and flew erroneously. However, Dimona is about 185 miles south of Damascus, a long range for a surface-to-air missile.
Syria’s SANA news agency said four soldiers were injured in an Israeli strike near Damascus, which also caused some damage. The agency did nothing more than claim that the air defense intercepted “most enemy missiles,” which it said were fired from the Golan Heights annexed by Israel.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the missile strike or comments from Iran.
But on Saturday, Iranian newspaper Kayhan published an opinion piece by Iranian analyst Sadollah Zarei, suggesting that the Israeli Dimona facility was targeted after the attack on Natanz. Zarei cited the idea of ”eye for an eye” in his remarks.
He should take action “against the Dimona nuclear installation”. “This is because no other action is on par with the Natanz incident.”
The Dimona reactor is believed to be the centerpiece of an undeclared nuclear weapons program. Israel does not confirm or deny that it has a nuclear arsenal.
While Kayhan is a small-circulation newspaper, its editor-in-chief, Hossein Shariatmadari, has been appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and has been described as his adviser in the past.
Zarei has called for retaliatory strikes on Israel in the past. In November, he suggested Iran hit the Israeli port city of Haifa for Israel’s alleged involvement in the killing of a scientist who founded Iran’s military nuclear program decades earlier. However, Iran did not retaliate then.
Israel and Iran are superior enemies.
Israel accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and has opposed US-led efforts to revive the international nuclear deal with Iran. With the encouragement of Israel, then-President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018.
Iran has recently begun enriching a small amount of uranium with up to 60% purity, the highest level ever for its program, which is even closer to arms levels. However, Iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes. He also called for more international control over the Dimona facility.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly said that Israel will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capability, and defense officials have acknowledged that they are preparing possible missions to attack Iranian targets. Israel has twice bombed other Middle Eastern nations to target its nuclear programs.
All the incidents take place while Iran is negotiating in Vienna with the world powers over the USA that could re-enter its nuclear agreement with the world powers. Negotiators there have described the talks as constructive so far, although they acknowledge that Natanz’s sabotage could strain the talks.
The Israeli government says the agreement will not prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability. He also says he does not address Iran’s long-range missile program and the support of hostile proxies in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza.