Syrian missile is brought down over Israeli air space

A SYRIAN surface-to-air missile has been shot down over Israeli-controlled air space.

Israeli media said it happened "north of Jerusalem".

The downed SA-5 missile "had a 200kg warhead which threatened the security of the State of Israel and its citizens", said a senior Israel Defence Forces officer.

Brigadier-General Zvika Haimovitch, commander of the IAF's Air Defence Division, added: "Our job is to neutralise that threat. And we did."

The ballistic missile was one of several fired at Israeli jets which had just raided a convoy of advanced Hezbollah weapons heading for the Syrian city of Palmyra.

The Israeli military confirmed that its planes were back in Israeli airspace when Damascus launched its missiles.

Israel used its latest Arrow-3 defence system to bring down the missile, causing an explosion which could be heard in Jerusalem.

The remains of the projectile came down in the Irbid region of Jordan, although other debris is said to have fallen in Israel.

It was the most serious border incident since the start of Syria's civil war six years ago.

And it is being seen as a signal that if weapons supplies to Hezbollah terrorists continue, Israel is ready to escalate its air campaign.

So serious was it regarded that Russia summoned Israeli ambassador Gary Koren to justify Israel's air strike.

In a rare admission, the Israeli military said its aircraft had attacked "several targets" in Syria before Syria launched the missiles.

Israel said none of its planes had been "compromised", despite Syria claiming it had shot down one of four aircraft involved in Friday's raid.

Israel's Channel 10 TV reported that Israel "deployed its Arrow defence system for the first time against a real threat and hit an incoming missile, intercepting it before it exploded in Israel".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Our policy is very consistent. When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah, and we have the intelligence and the operational capability, we act to prevent that.

"That is what was and that is what will be."'

Jordan confirmed that debris found in the Irbid district came from the Israeli interception of a missile fired from Syria.

Radwan Otoum, the Irbid governor, said that the missile parts caused only minor damage.

A chunk of missile crashed into the courtyard of a home at Inbeh in northern Jordan, about 25 miles from the Syrian border.

A resident, Umm Bilal al-Khatib, said she heard a blast at around 3am and initially thought a gas cylinder had exploded.

When she went outside, she found a small crater and a 10ft cylinder.

On Sunday, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened that Israel "will not hesitate" to destroy Syria's air defence systems if Israeli fighter jets are ever targeted again.

"You have to understand the context - if we strike there is a real reason for it," he said at an army induction centre.

"We have no interest in intervening in the civil war in Syria, either in favour or against Bashar al-Assad.

"We do not want to clash with the Russians.

"Our main issue is with the transfer of advanced weaponry from Syria to Lebanon.

"So whenever we detect an attempt to smuggle weapons, we will act to prevent it. We will not compromise on this issue."

He added: "We will not hesitate. Israel's security is paramount and above everything else."

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