What is the Iron Dome and how does it protect Israel from rocket attacks?


The Israeli military’s ace in the hole against the ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants in Gaza is its vaunted Iron Dome air defense system.

“More than 1,050 rockets have been fired towards Israel and the Iron Dome has had an 85 percent to 90 percent interception rate despite the Hamas terrorist organization attempting to overwhelm the system,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Capt. Ben Rosner told The Post on Wednesday.

Many of the rockets also have failed to reach the Jewish state, crashing instead inside Gaza, the army said.

The defense system was developed by the Israeli Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries, with US financial and technical support, to protect populated areas and critical assets from short-range aerial threats, the Washington Post reported.

It was first deployed in 2011 near the southern city of Beersheva, about 25 miles from the Gaza Strip, to combat Soviet-designed Grad rockets fired from the Palestinian territory, according to Agence France-Presse.

Israel has 10 Iron Dome batteries, AFP reported.

Each battery has a radar detection and tracking system, a firing control system and three launchers for 20 missiles — each with a range of between 2.5 and 44 miles.

Two separate systems — David’s Sling and Arrow — are designed against threats including planes, drones, rockets and missiles, according to the Washington Post.

They determine instantly whether an incoming projectile is a threat and fire interceptors from mobile units or stationary launch sites only if the incoming rocket risks hitting a populated area or vital infrastructure, according to the report.

The interceptors are designed to detonate the incoming rocket in the air.

Moshe Patel, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Homa directorate, told the right-wing paper Israel Hayom that the system had the “ability to counter cruise missiles, drones and more,” including “threats that don’t even exist in the field at this time, but will probably emerge in the coming months.”

The system has allowed a semblance of normalcy for many residents in southern Israel amid multiple conflicts — despite the need to quickly seek shelter when sirens warn of impending attacks.

Michael Armstrong, an associate professor at Brock University who has studied Iron Dome’s effectiveness, wrote in 2019 for the National Interest that “no missile defense system is perfectly reliable, especially against an evolving threat,” the Washington Post reported.

And some Israelis say the government relies too much on the Iron Dome and does not put enough resources into other measures, including shelters, according to the Washington Post.

“The house is not protected, and it is not realistic to get to the neighborhood shelters, especially when the barrages are so continuous,” Ashkelon resident Guy Mann told Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday after his building was struck by a rocket.

“We can only rely on the Iron Dome and luck,” he said.

Main Image: ethnos.gr

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