Storm clouds, both literal and figurative, loomed overhead as two batteries of Israel’s latest missile defense system — the David’s Sling — went operational on Sunday.
At a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Base not far from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s top defense officials boasted of the capabilities afforded by the state-of-the-art batteries, as tensions with Hamas threaten to put them to a real-time test soon.
Tensions with Hamas — who have reportedly now also acquired rockets with much larger warheads — have spiraled in recent weeks following the killing of a top Hamas leader.
Just before the event, the head of the Israeli Air Force’s Aerial Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch warned that such a conflict with Hamas would “be more challenging” than previous ones in light of the highly explosive, short-range rockets reportedly acquired by the terrorist group.
These awe-inspiring pictures show South Korean marines practicing a landing operation as a part of their annual military training with US troops.
Amphibious assault vehicles fired smoke bombs into the air which covered the movements of the marines as they sprinted onto the beach in Pohang, South Korea.
The crack troops crawled along the sand peering into their rifle scopes as others bearing mortars came ashore.
The annual exercises called Foal Eagle come as tensions with North Korea mount after recent missile and rocket testing in the communist state.
Visiting the headquarters of an army unit last month, the North's leader Kim Jong-Un praised his troops for their 'vigilance against the US and South Korean enemy forces that are making frantic efforts for invasion'.
Kim also ordered the troops to 'set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy's sudden air assault.'
On Friday US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said North Korea must be stopped on its path toward being able to threaten the United States with nuclear attack.
Pyongyang is widely seen as behind the murder of Kim's half-brother Kim Jong-Nam in Kuala Lumpur in February by two women using a banned nerve agent.
Washington and Seoul have agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system to counter growing nuclear and missile threats by the North, and the first parts have recently arrived in the South.
The plan has angered Beijing, which fears it will undermine its own ballistic capabilities, with China's foreign ministry saying THAAD 'jeopardises the strategic security interests' in the region and warning of 'consequences' for Seoul and Washington.