- A rocket attack early in the conflict sparked a fire at the Sdot Micha base housing “sensitive weaponry,” the report says
NEW YORK (Agencies): A rocket fired by Palestinian militants during the Hamas attack on October 7 struck an Israeli military base believed to store nuclear-capable missiles, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing an analysis of satellite imagery.
According to NASA satellite data used to detect wildfires and reviewed by the paper, one missile, most likely launched by Hamas, struck the Sdot Micha base in central Israel in the early hours of the conflict. The bombardment apparently did not hit any projectiles directly, but caused a fire that “approached missile storage facilities and other sensitive weaponry,” the report says.
Satellite imagery shared by the Times shows the area around Sdot Micha in August and the aftermath of the rocket strike, with a large scorched-earth spot appearing there on October 8.
The barrage in the vicinity of the sensitive site went on for several hours, the article says. It is unclear how many of the missiles managed to evade Israel’s renowned Iron Dome air defense system. However, one rocket is believed to have landed at a small ravine near a facility housing Jericho missiles, with a radar system and a battery of air defense missiles.
Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project, told the paper that there could have been from 25 to 50 Jericho nuclear-capabale missile launchers. However, the expert said that the warheads were likely stored elsewhere and could not have been affected by the strike.
It is unclear whether Hamas was aware that the base housed Israeli nuclear-capable missiles, or whether it regarded it as an ordinary military facility, the report says.
Israel is widely suspected of having significant nuclear capabilities, but has for decades maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying that it possesses such weaponry. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Israel is estimated to have 80 nuclear warheads, 50 of which are capable of being launched by Jericho II medium-range ballistic missiles.
Hamas carried out a surprise attack on Israel in early October, firing hundreds of missiles at facilities across the country. The raid claimed the lives of more than 1,200 Israelis, and the IDF operation that followed has killed nearly 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza.