Hamas likely fired a rocket during their October 7 attack on Israel which struck an Israeli military facility that experts believe houses many of Israel’s missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, according to a visual examination of the attack’s aftermath conducted by the New York Times.
“While the missiles themselves weren’t hit, the rocket’s impact, at the Sdot Micha base in central Israel, sparked a fire that approached missile storage facilities and other sensitive weaponry,” the New York Times reported.
It added: “Israel has never acknowledged the existence of its nuclear arsenal, though Israeli whistle-blowers, US officials and satellite imagery analysts all agree that the country possesses at least a small number of nuclear weapons.”
However, the NYT report cites the Federation of American Scientists’ Nuclear Information Project as estimating that there are most likely 25 to 50 nuclear-capable Jericho missile launchers at the base. Experts and declassified US government documents show that Israel’s Jericho missiles are equipped to be armed with nuclear warheads.
According to the Missile Threat project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank, Israel’s Jericho 3 is a solid-fueled intermediate-range ballistic missile estimated to be between 15.5-16 m long and have a body diameter of 1.56 m. It has an estimated launch weight of 29,000 kg and payload of 1,000 to 1,300 kg. “The missile is reportedly equipped with a 750 kg nuclear warhead.” It has a range of 4,800 to 6,500 km.
The NYT report stated: “The previously unreported strike on Sdot Micha is the first known instance of Palestinian militants hitting a site suspected of containing Israeli nuclear weaponry. It’s unclear if they knew the specifics of what they were targeting, beyond the base simply being a military facility.”
Regardless, “the targeting of one of the most sensitive military locations in Israel shows that the scope of the October 7 attacks may have been even greater than previously known — and that rockets can penetrate the airspace around Israel’s closely guarded strategic weapons.”
The report detailed the nature of the attack and said: “The rocket struck within the confines of the base… It landed in a small ravine adjacent to a Jericho missile facility, a large radar system and a battery of air defense missiles. The explosion quickly started a fire in the thick, dry vegetation.”
The war between Hamas and Israel erupted on October 7 when the militant group launched a surprise attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Hamas fighters breached security barriers and entered southern Israel. Their incursion was accompanied by a barrage of rockets.
Israel had said the Hamas attacks on October 7 killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and the militia, originally, took more than 240 hostages in one of the deadliest attacks in Israel’s history. Immediately afterwards, Israel commenced air campaigns on Gaza and launched the recent ground offensive which has resulted in the deaths of nearly 16,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Hamas and the Israeli army did not respond to requests for comment on the report.