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Israel launches new spy satellite to target enemies ‘near and far’

DPA
Tel Aviv
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday said his country was much better able to act against enemies “near and far” thanks to the successful launch of a new spy satellite.
Against the backdrop of mysterious explosions in Iran, Israel launched the Ofek 16 into orbit at 4 am (0100 GMT) from a base at a beach south of Tel Aviv.
Joining other, older satellites, Ofek 16 gives Israel a broader and clearer view from outer space of the Middle East, including Iran.
“The success of the Ofek 16 satellite greatly improves our ability to act against enemies, both near and far,” Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
Defence Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz spoke of “another extraordinary achievement.” The advanced, electro-optic satellite has begun to orbit around Earth and transmit data. Engineers have started tests before it becomes fully operational.
Ofek 16 was now joining its “brothers,” among them Ofek 5, launched in 2002 and still functioning, said the head of the ministry’s space division, Amnon Harari.
“All the group of satellites are being used to monitor any threats on the state of Israel, which as you know are sometimes far away and immediate,” Harari said in a conference call with reporters.
Ofek 16 was highly similar to Ofek 11, the last one successfully launched in 2016, with only “a minute difference, if any,” he said.
“Once you have a good design, you want to launch a few of these in order to be cost-effective,” he said.

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