Military officials said on Sunday that David’s Sling, which is capable of stopping missiles within ranges of 300km, had passed the test run in southern Israel by blocking its first missile.
David’s Sling, otherwise known as the Magic Wand, has been developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and US-based Raytheon Co.
A military spokesperson aid the programme, which is on schedule for deployment in 2014, would “provide an additional layer of defense against ballistic missiles”.
The news of the tests came shortly after Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese political group Hezbollah, announced on Ashura, a holy day of mourning, that thousands of rockets would rain on Israel if it attacks Lebanon.
Hezbollah could hit targets “from Kiryat Shmona – and let the Israelis listen carefully – from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat”, he said, referring to Israeli’s northernmost town on the Lebanese border and to the Red Sea port 290km further south.
Iran threat perception
With US backing, Israel maintains that it has the right to defend itself from attacks and is reviewing its military strategy and retaliatory options in the face of ongoing tension with Gaza and Lebanon as well as the political instability of neighbouring Syria.
In a recent interview with the BBC, Riad Hijab, who defected as the Syrian prime minister to the opposition, alleged that Iran had been deciding Syria’s policy.
Iran’s alleged alliance and collaboration against Israel with the neighbouring countries has prompted Israel to deploy Arrow systems for longer-range threats from Iran.
The Iron Dome, which was deployed in last week’s offensive on Gaza, protects against short-range rockets fired by fighters in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The Fajr-5s, with a range of 75km – able to strike Tel Aviv or Jerusalem – and 175kg warheads, were the most powerful and long-range rockets to have been fired from Gaza before the ceasefire took hold on November 23.
Hundreds of rockets from Gaza were struck down by the Iron Dome in the latest offensive.
Ehud Barak, Israeli defence minister, said the success of Iron Dome highlighted the “immense importance” of such systems.