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Israel’s Defence Ministry announced the successful launch of a new spy satellite early on Monday.

It said the Ofek 16 reconnaissance satellite was launched at 4 a.m. from central Israel into space. It described the Ofek as an electro-optical reconnaissance satellite with advanced capabilities.

Shortly after the launch, it said the Ofek already was transmitting data and beginning to orbit around the Earth. It said engineers from the ministry and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries were conducting tests before it begins full operational activities.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz called the launch an extraordinary achievement.

Technological superiority and intelligence capabilities are essential to the security of the state of Israel, he said.

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