Passenger planes heading to the southern Israeli city of Eilat have had missile defense systems installed on them, reported Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.
According to the report the SkyShield missile defense system was approved by Israeli defense officials for Arkia and Israir two weeks ago following the launching of three Grad missiles towards Israel by Islamic State militants in Sinai. Israeli authorities are concerned that Israeli jets may be a target for terrorist groups operating in the Sinai, the report said.
The SkyShield system, developed by Elbit Systems about a decade ago, uses lasers and a thermal camera to confuse the incoming missile and change it’s trajectory. According to the Defense Ministry, the system, which can be affixed to the underbelly of a commercial airliner, completed its testing last year with a “100 percent” success rate.
Due to the increased threat stemming from Islamic militants, Israel’s security cabinet approved extending the fence along the Egyptian border to include a section along the Jordanian border north of Eilat in late June.
Israel’s fence on its southern border with Egypt, also near Eilat, was erected in 2013 to keep out illegal African immigrants and while Israel and Jordan coordinate closely on the shared border, Israel is concerned about migrants and armed jihadist might try to infiltrate via the 240 kilometer-long border with Jordan.
“This is an important matter. It is part of our national security,” Netanyahu said following the announcement. “It is an addition security fence we built along our border in the Sinai, which prevented the entry of illegal infiltrators into Israel, and of course of the various terror organizations.”
The extension of the fence will run 30 kilometers north from Eilat and will help to protect the Timna airport, due to open next year.
In March, a senior IDF official said that Israel was “preparing for a multi-pronged terror threat directed against our forces and civilians in the Eilat area.”
Col. Arik Chen, deputy commander of Israel’s Southern Division said that the “challenges are very complicated, because on the one hand you have here a peaceful border, and on the other hand a frontier area in Sinai has developed that enables terrorist groups to grow like Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis which became an IS affiliate. This organization, as we have seen recently, creates a number of terror attacks against the Egyptian army, and this is one of the more bothersome challenges which we are preparing for.” (i24 News)