Hundreds of citizens from Nahariyah to Ashkelon called the police on Thursday night saying they spotted a shiny object high in the night sky. One of the assumptions was that the sighting was debris from an old, defunct Russian satellite still floating in the sky. Another possible explanation was that the mysterious object was a Russian ballistic missile that had malfunctioned.
Russian news agency Novosti published a statement issued by the Russian Defense Ministry saying that a missile had indeed been launched on Thursday from the city of Astrachan in central Russia. A spokesperson for the ministry claimed the experiment was considered a success. It is possible that the missile was equipped with a self-destruction mechanism after reaching a height of 80 km (49 miles) above ground. The statement confirmed that "On June 7th, at 21:39 according to Moscow time, teams of strategic missile forces in the Astrachan area had successfully conducted an experiment with a ballistic missile."
Video footage shot in the area from where the missile was fired documented it in flight, just as it began to spin. The video showed part of the missile breaking away and falling. The footage was removed from the Internet minutes after being uploaded.
The unidentified object was also spotted from the Givatayim Observatory, where a tour was being conducted. According to Dr. Yigal Fattal, chairman of the Israeli Astronomical Association and head of the observatory, the object was seen at an angle of twenty degrees above the horizon in the northeast direction and at a height of tens of kilometers above ground and tens of kilometers north of the Israeli-Lebanese border.
"It's premature to say what this was. I am not ruling out the possibility that it was a large meteorite, or a satellite that fell apart. That could be very likely," Fattal said. "It looked like a small body that started growing and moving in a spiral-like pattern, before turning into a cloud. We are currently waiting to receive reports from Lebanon in order to find out exactly what happened there."
Hundreds of worried phone calls were also received at the Northern District's Police station, after many residents in the Galil and Krayot area noticed a glowing trail pass through the sky.
"I was jogging near in the field at around 8:30 p.m. when I saw a breathtaking trail of light, that looked like a head and tail, flying overhead," Kiryat Tivon resident Daniel Rosner recounted.
Sources in the police say that after conducting an inquiry and consulting with the Israeli Air Force, no explanation was found for the mysterious beam of light.