Israel, US carry out missile test during Kerry visit

AFP , Friday 3 Jan 2014

US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman greet, ahead of their meeting at the David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem, Israel, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Israel and the United States carried out a joint missile test Friday, the defence ministry said, as US Secretary of State John Kerry pushed for a Middle East peace deal.

The Israel Missile Defence Organisation and US Missile Defence Agency completed a "successful" launch of the Arrow-3 anti-ballistic missile system over the Mediterranean, an Israeli defence ministry statement said.

The Arrow, designed to counter long-range missiles, has successfully intercepted missiles similar to Iran's Shihab-3 in a variety of test conditions.

In November, Israel and the US tested David's Sling, a separate part of the Jewish state's missile defence system.

It was the first time David's Sling was tested "in its entirety", including identifying the target missile, launching and successfully shooting it down.

David's Sling is meant to bridge the gap between the Arrow and the much-vaunted Iron Dome system, with officials saying it is aimed at intercepting projectiles "from Grad to Scud".

Iraq fired long-range Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel and the US also test-fired the Arrow Ballistic Missile Defence system in September, in a joint exercise over the Mediterranean as Washington was considering military action against Syria.

But the Pentagon said there was no connection between the test and Syria.

Friday's test came as Kerry met Israeli and Palestinian officials, in his latest push for an elusive Middle East peace deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Kerry was meeting, hailed the successful test as "the fruit of Israeli-American cooperation."

Veteran US Senator John McCain, who is visiting Israel as part of a congressional delegation, said the successful test was "a landmark achievement."

It was "ample testimony" to the US and Israel showcasing "the best of our technology and the best of our capabilities that has developed this really important defensive system."

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