An IDF official revealed on Monday that the Syrian surface-to-air missile that triggered Israel’s first use of an Arrow missile in defense was in response to a perceived threat to the home front, according to media reports.
The Syrian missile, carrying a 420-lb. warhead, was on a trajectory toward the Jordan Valley in Israel. It was one of three surface-to-air missiles launched against Israeli jets returning from a strike in Syria. The other two landed in open areas and caused no injury or damage.
“Last week on Friday morning the Air Defense Command understood that Israel faced a ballistic missile threat,” Brigadier-General Zvika Haimovitch, Commander of the IAF’s Air Defense Division, said in an apparent response to critics who questioned whether the Arrow deployment had been justified.
“In this situation there is no room or time for question marks or dilemmas. Our operational rules are very clear in this regard: to neutralize any threat which poses a risk to Israel and her citizens. And that is what we did and that is what we will do in the future.”
The SAM in question was intercepted by an Israeli Arrow 2 missile, reported to cost nearly 3 million shekels ($827,000).
“We need to defend the State of Israel. We will not save [money]. We will engage,” he said.
The general denied reports that the Syrian missile had been a Scud, akin to the type fired at Israel by Iraq during the First Gulf War.
“As far as I know,” he said, the SAM was a Russian SA-5, also known as an S-200.