Reports of sirens near the city of Dimona and explosions in central Israel represent the kind of sum of all fears that people go to bed with and hope not to wake up to.
But that happened early Thursday morning when a Syrian missile landed near Dimona and Israel retaliated by striking in Syria. The initial reports came out at around 2 am. They began with news of sirens in southern Israel and foreign media reports of those sirens being near Israel's secretive nuclear reactor.
The Syrian missile landing near Dimona illustrates how dangerous this battle is. Had it struck inside the reactor compound, Israelis would be waking up to a very different reality.
They go along with Iranian media reports of the sirens and an explosion in Israel that could be heard as far away as the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jerusalem and Modi'in. Reports on the Shahab Arabic news site also said that Bedouin communities near Dimona had heard sirens and explosions. These were also heard in the hills of Hebron. The unusual number of reports and their extent represent a serious incident that is unusual.
It comes on the heels of Iranian media claiming that an explosion in central Israel two days ago may have been "deliberate." Likely a propaganda story, it nevertheless goes along with another Fars news report about Iran using a drone to conduct surveillance of a US carrier.
Days ago Iran's pro-regime Kayhan newspaper called for "action" targeting Dimona.
Only days ago the Kayhan newspaper in Iran, linked to regime, called for Iran to target Dimona, according to to expert Yossi Mansharof. The Iranian media had called for "action" against Dimona claiming they would strike at an Israel "nuclear facility" in retaliation for an incident at Iran's Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.
The last major attacks on Israel from Syria have included a drone launched from T-4 base in Syria in February 2018 and a rocket salvo in May 2018.
In 2018 and 2019 Iran was reported to have moved ballistic missiles to Iraq. It has also moved precision guided munitions to Iraq and Syria and armed Hezbollah with long-range rockets. In January Iran was reported by Newsweek to have moved a drone to Yemen that had a range to strike Israel. Iran has used drones to strike Saudi Arabia and targeted a US base in Iraq in January 2020 with precision ballistic missiles.
Seth J. Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.