Israel on alert for Syria airstrike
(Times Online) THE defensive missile shield around Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor was placed on red alert 30 times last week amid fears of an airstrike by Syria.
A battery of American-made Patriot antiaircraft missiles has been moved to Dimona in the Negev desert following intelligence that a strike may be launched in retaliation for Israel’s bombing of a suspected nuclear site in Syria two months ago.
In a highly unusual move, the officers in charge of the missiles were permitted to talk to Israeli state television about their preparations. “We’re ready to launch the missiles in seconds, once we’re on full alert,” said First Lieutenant Adi, a young female officer who is the deputy commander of the battery.
Tension with Damascus has heightened since September 6 when Israeli fighters destroyed the suspected nuclear installation in northern Syria.
“The fact that the Syrians didn’t launch an immediate strike against Israel doesn’t mean that they won’t retaliate in due course,” said an Israeli defence source. “Dimona is on the top of their list.”
Tension is mounting in Israel. “Every civilian aircraft en route from Cairo to Amman, or from Jeddah to Cairo and vice versa, which deviates even slightly from its route, sets off an alarm and risks a missile being fired,” said the female commander of the Patriot battery.
The unit is authorised to shoot down any aircraft which approaches, civilian or combat.
An Israeli Mirage jet that approached Dimona by mistake was shot down during the Six-Day War in 1967, while a Libyan Boeing 727 which lost its way in a storm in 1973 and approached Dimona was also downed. All 113 on board were killed.
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