Through analyzing satellite imagery, NY Times finds rocket impact on Sdot Micha Airbase caused fire to spread near facilities where sensitive weapons are believed to be stored.
© AP Photo/ Hatem MoussaRockets are launched by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza, October 7, 2023.
A rocket launched by the Hamas terror group from the Gaza Strip on October 7 hit a sensitive Israeli Air Force base in central Israel, where some of Israel's nuclear-capable missiles are allegedly located, according to a report by The New York Times
Citing satellite imagery, the report said that one rocket hit in the vicinity of the Sdot Micha Airbase near Beit Shemesh on the morning of October 7, as Hamas fired thousands of rockets at Israel during its onslaught on the south.
A fire erupted and burned some 40 acres at the base, but did not appear to reach strategic facilities, the daily paper found through a visual analysis of the rocket attack's aftermath.Speaking to The New York Times, Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Nuclear Information Project, estimated that there are 25-50 nuclear-capable Jericho missile launchers at the base, which experts believe can carry nuclear warheads.According to foreign reports, Israel has a small stockpile of nuclear weapons, although the country has never acknowledged this. While Jericho missiles are designed to be equipped with nuclear warheads, the warheads themselves are likely kept at a separate location, Kristensen said.
A fire is unlikely to have damaged any silo even if it had reached it, as these are built for protection deep within the earth, the report stressed.It should also be noted that no amount of damage to a nuclear weapon is likely to cause that weapon to detonate, as a nuclear blast demands a highly specific set of events within the warhead, the accidental occurrence of which is virtually impossible.The New York Times
stated in the report that it was unclear that Hamas was aware of the site's significance.
Despite this, the report noted, the attack indicated that "the scope of the Oct. 7 attacks may have been even greater than previously known," and showed that "rockets can penetrate the airspace around Israel's closely guarded strategic weapons."
Some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst into Israel on October 7 under cover of heavy rocket fire, slaughtering more than 1,200 people, most of them civilians
, and seizing some 240 hostages.
During the unprecedented attack, the terrorists also attacked army bases near the Gaza border, killing and kidnapping soldiers as they did so.The New York Times
report noted that several rocket warnings sounded in the area around Sdot Micha during the attack, but only one impact was seen in satellite imagery.
The reported attack on the Sdot Micha base is not the first time that Israeli Air Force bases have been the target of Hamas missiles.
During the May 2021 Operation Guardian of the Walls, Hamas claimed that it had intentionally targeted Air Force bases at Hatzor, Hatzerim, Nevatim, Tel Nof, Palmachim, and Ramon.
However, at the time no rockets succeeded in reaching any of their targets, with the closest rocket landing in an open field well outside the Tel Nof Base near Rehovot.