Iranian Missile and Drone Blitz on Israel: What Was Fired and How Was It Stopped?

HomeWARIranian Missile and Drone Blitz on Israel: What Was Fired and How...

In an unprecedented escalation, Iran launched a massive coordinated attack involving over 300 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles aimed at Israeli territory on Saturday night. The bombardment originated from Iran itself as well as proxies in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

Israel and its allies managed to intercept around 99% of the incoming projectiles before they could cause significant damage, through a coordinated air defense operation involving at least nine countries. However, a small number of missiles did breach Israel’s multi-tiered defenses and struck a key air base in the Negev desert.

Air Raid Sirens and Explosions Light Up Israeli Skies

The dramatic events began unfolding around midnight local time on Saturday as air raid sirens rang out across Israel warning of incoming fire. Residents took shelter as explosions were seen and heard across multiple cities when Israel’s aerial defense systems engaged the hostile projectiles.

“For the first time ever, Iran carried out direct strikes against Israeli territory,” said Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli military, in a televised statement on Sunday. “The attack involved 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and at least 110 ballistic missiles launched from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.”

According to Hagari, all of the drones and cruise missiles were successfully intercepted, either outside Israeli airspace or after entering over the country. Most of the ballistic missiles, which follow an arcing trajectory and reach extremely high speeds, were also shot down. However, he confirmed a small number did impact Israeli soil.

Dramatic Footage Shows Exoatmospheric Missile Intercept

Footage emerged on social media that appeared to show one of the Iranian ballistic missiles being intercepted at an incredibly high altitude, likely by Israel’s advanced Arrow 3 exoatmospheric system designed to stop threats outside the earth’s atmosphere.

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The strike represented a major escalation, being the first time Iran has directly carried out strikes targeting Israel itself rather than acting through proxies. The projectiles were launched from locations over 1,000 km away in Iran as well as positions in Iraq, Syria and Yemen held by Iranian-backed militias.

Israel’s cutting-edge defensive missile shield, integrating several complementary systems, was activated to counter the barrage. The highest tier is the Arrow system to stop long-range ballistic missiles, with David’s Sling targeting shorter-range threats, and Iron Dome guarding against rockets and drones aimed at population centers.

US, UK and Arab Allies Assist in Downing Hostile Fire

The unprecedented Iranian attack saw an extraordinary coordinated response, with the United States, United Kingdom and several Arab allies assisting Israel’s defenses.

“US forces helped Israel take down nearly all the drones and missiles launched by Iran on Sunday,” stated President Joe Biden, who said US aircraft and warships in the region were involved.

US Central Command said its troops destroyed over 80 drones and at least 6 ballistic missiles, including by striking some on the ground in Yemen before launch. UK RAF jets operating in the area also downed several Iranian attack drones according to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Jordan, which has a peace treaty with Israel, confirmed intercepting objects entering its airspace to protect citizens. Meanwhile, France helped patrol the skies though its role in downing threats was unclear.

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The Israeli military gave credit to precise US intelligence sharing as well as a multi-year integrated air defense command and control system linking Israel with the US and Arab partners as critical factors.

“The biggest US contribution was extremely precise intelligence,” said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser. “And the complex joint command system set up over four years ago between the US, Israel and Arab countries was very effective.”

Negev Air Base Struck as Some Missiles Penetrate Defenses

While the defensive operation was highly successful in battering down the unprecedented swarm, Rear Adm. Hagari acknowledged that “a few” ballistic missiles did get through and strike the Nevatim air force base deep in Israel’s Negev desert region.

US officials told American media that around five ballistic missiles evaded the air defenses, with four hitting the Nevatim base which likely was the primary target housing Israel’s F-35 stealth fighter jets. One missile struck a runway, another an empty hangar, and one a facility no longer in use.

“The base took some hits but is still functioning,” Hagari stated, adding that a 7-year-old girl from a nearby Bedouin village was severely injured by shrapnel from an intercepted Iranian drone strike, and was hospitalized in intensive care.

According to one US official, around half of the 120 or so ballistic missiles launched by Iran crashed or failed after launch without being intercepted.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, said their goal was to deal “heavy blows” to the air base. However, Israeli media citing a military source said only minor damage was caused and the base remained operational.

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Israel Vows Retaliation as Iran Warns of Larger Attacks

In the aftermath, both sides traded warnings suggesting the crisis is far from over. Israel’s security cabinet was set to convene to discuss potential retaliation options.

“The confrontation is not over yet,” cautioned Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. An unnamed Israeli official told local media there would be “a significant response” to the Iranian aggression.

For its part, Iran’s military leadership warned of attacks on US bases in the region if America participates in any Israeli retaliation. “Our response will be much larger than tonight’s military action if Israel retaliates against Iran,” stated Armed Forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri.

However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman attempted to downplay the situation, calling the strikes a “limited act of self-defense” and expressing hope the West would appreciate Iran’s “restraint.”

At an emergency UN Security Council session, Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged both sides to “defuse and de-escalate” as the region stood on the brink of war. Similarly, G7 leaders condemned Iran’s unprecedented attack during an emergency video summit and appealed for restraint.

The coordinated long-range strike by Iran against Israeli territory marks a dangerous new phase amid decades of surging hostility between the two nations. While a wider regional conflict has potentially been averted for now thanks to the defensive missiles, diplomats warn the risk of further escalation remains high if restraint is not shown by all parties.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a seasoned basketball journalist with a passion for the WNBA and NBA. His insightful writing combines commentary and stats, providing comprehensive coverage. Alee sheds light on the overlooked WNBA while championing its players. He also delivers in-depth NBA analysis, offering unique perspectives on trades, drafts, and league dynamics. With exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes access, Alee gives readers an unparalleled look into the lives of basketball's biggest stars.

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