Israel says it has successfully tested a ballistic missile shield for protection from long-range weapons held by Hezbollah, Iran and Syria. The Defense Ministry said Thursday that the Arrow 3 system fully passed its interception test, hitting a target in space as it would a missile coming from a hostile party.
The successful test boosts Arrow 3, which is to become the top-tier missile defense system in Israel’s arsenal. A similar test last year failed due to what designers said was a faulty deployment of the target.
"The Arrow 3 successful trial this morning is further proof of our security industries' impressive abilities in the technological field, in this case of the Israel Aerospace Industry," said Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.
Arrow 3 interceptors are designed to fly beyond the earth's atmosphere, where their warheads detach to become so-called "kill vehicles" that track, follow and hit fast-moving targets. Such high altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological and chemical missiles. The system is jointly developed by Israel's state-owned aerospace industry and the U.S. firm Boeing.
Israel was the target of rocket attacks from Gaza last year, many of them intercepted by an air defense system designed to deter short-range rockets and artillery shells. After Israel's deadly offensive that killed more than 2,000 people, Palestinians from both Gaza and the West Bank have resorted to sporadic shooting, stabbing and car ramming attacks on Israelis. On Thursday, a car rammed into a group of Israelis in the West Bank, leaving four people wounded, one of them seriously.
Escalating violence has sparked fears of a new intifada. Muslims and Christians demonstrated in Ramallah to demand peace for the upcoming holidays.
“The country where the Christ was born, this is the land of peace. So, hopefully peace will come to this area and we’ll celebrate like any others and bring the happiness to our kids," said Issam, a Christian from Ramallah/
One family in the troubled region has a special reason to celebrate as a relative returns home after 15 years of imprisonment in Egypt. Israeli citizen Ouda Tarabin, a Bedouin Arab, was convicted of spying for Israel and sentenced to prison. He denies the charges.