US Mideast forces chief blames Syrian ‘incompetence’ for missile hitting Israel


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US Mideast forces chief blames Syrian ‘incompetence’ for missile hitting Israel
Gen. McKenzie tells Armed Services Committee anti-aircraft rocket not deliberately fired into Israeli territory, went awry due to lack of capability in hitting attacking jets
By Judah Ari Gross and TOI staff

The head of American forces in the Middle East on Thursday supported the Israel Defense Forces’ assertion that it was an errant Syrian anti-aircraft missile that streaked across the country during the night, setting off sirens in southern Israel that were followed by loud explosions. Speaking before the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said the incident “reflects incompetence in Syrian air defense, where they were responding to Israeli strikes on targets in Syria. I do not believe it was an intentional attack but just rather lack of capability.”

McKenzie joked that the surface-to-air missile went “ballistic, literally.” The IDF said the missile had been fired at an Israeli jet during an airstrike on targets in the Syrian Golan Heights. It triggered air raid sirens in the northern Negev in the area near Israel’s nuclear reactor in the predawn hours, followed by loud explosions that could be heard throughout much of the country. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

IDF troops launched an interceptor missile at the incoming projectile to try to shoot it down, though it was not immediately clear if this was successful. The IDF said it was still investigating the matter on Thursday. The military refused to identify which of its air defense batteries was used. IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman stressed that the military did not believe it was a deliberate attack on the country or its nuclear facility near the city of Dimona. “There was no intention of hitting the nuclear reactor in Dimona,” Zilberman told reporters.