WASHINGTON — This week an Iranian-built missile was launched from a site in Yemen, aimed at Eilat in Israel which is around 1,600 km away. It was notable for two reasons, first, it broke the record for the longest-range launch of ballistic missiles from ground batteries, and then secondly, it was the first operational interception of a ballistic missile by Israel’s Arrow missile defense system.
According to a report first published by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the missile fired from Yemen, is reportedly a Qader missile – an upgraded version of the Iranian Shahab 3. It is the Arrow type that was originally designed for combat since its development began after the Gulf War in 1991; then used when Israeli cities were hit by Iraqi Scud missiles that evaded the old Patriot interceptors used at the time.
A statement released by the Israeli Defense Forces said that the interception was the first operational use of the Arrow system since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, and that it “thwarted an aerial threat in the area of the Red Sea.” “The missile was fired towards Israel but was intercepted before it could reach its target,” said the IDF later.
“All aerial threats were intercepted outside of Israeli territory. No infiltrations were identified into Israeli territory,” stated the IDF.
Israel Aerospace Industries, the lead Israeli contractor on the Arrow, praised the IDF for the successful interception. “The Arrow is an advanced air defense system created and designed to intercept ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere,” said IAI. It noted that the system was developed by Israel and the Missile Defense Agency in the US.
“The Arrow system […] demonstrated today that Israel possesses the most advanced technology for defense against ballistic missiles at various ranges,” said CEO and President of the IAI, Boaz Levy.
Meanwhile, the Houthi armed group in Yemen reportedly claimed responsibility, and the Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused them of a similar attack that took place last week. The IDF has been concerned for the north of the country because of the Houthis and the continued deadly skirmishes between Lebanese Hezbollah and Israeli forces along Israel’s northern border.
While the Israel – Hamas War has been fought in Gaza there has been a concern by the IDF as well as their multinational partners that the war could be expanded to the north of the country. This weekend the United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was in Israel and Jordan to explore a possible diplomatic solution so that the war does not escalate throughout the region.
(Additional reporting provided by Joseph Hammond)
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager