Israel has released rare footage of its use of secret guided anti-tank missiles, seeming to prove Syria's claim last week that Tel Aviv used the weapon to attack Damascus.
In recent footage released by and reported on by Ynet News, the Israeli military could be seen firing a 'Tamuz' surface-to-surface missile, which was kept top secret until now. In the video, the Israeli arms firm, Rafael, conducts experimental firing rounds from its testing site based in the Negev desert.
Hours before the release of the footage, an Israeli attack was reported to have struck sites used by the Iranian militias in the suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), furthermore, cited the use of such missiles, reporting that "The Israeli enemy fired a salvo of surface-to-surface missiles from northern occupied Palestine targeting positions near Damascus."
The existence of the weapons system —known as the 'fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile'— was first made public nine years ago after the Israeli military used it in their 2012 assault on the Gaza Strip. Aside from being used on the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, it was also reportedly used on the Iran-backed Lebanese Shia militia movement, Hezbollah.
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According to Ynet, the weapon became operational 30 years ago, as electro-optical targeting systems were made operational in the Israeli military in 1991. Later that decade, it was then installed on aircraft and naval ships.
At an event hosted by the military on Sunday at the Amphitheatre in Caesarea, the head of the Precision Tactical Weapons Systems Division of Rafael —Zvi Marmor—stated that "The missile has a range of dozens of kilometres, is fully controlled by the operator and knows how to identify and distinguish between targets. It can also operate autonomously."
Marmor added that "the project was kept secret for years, even after we were able to double the firing range to 24 km [15 miles]." Israel's Air Force also reportedly installed the missiles on Apache gunships, further increasing their range to 50 km (30 miles).
The high accuracy of the Tamuz missiles, as well as the fact that they are regularly technologically updated and advanced, has even resulted in them being sold to 38 countries worldwide in their various versions.
According to some reports, however, Israel prefers to use the missiles as a last resort, due to their notably high cost.