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Israel’s Iron Dome - Boosted by U.S. Support - Successfully Intercepts Terror Rockets from Gaza

by James Colbert, JINSA Policy Director

The Iron Dome short-range rocket and missile defense system intercepted 90 percent of missile attacks on Israeli urban centers during the latest bombardment from Gaza. The system intercepted 27 rockets fired from Gaza over the weekend, raising the interception rate from 75 percent last year to over 90 percent.

The U.S. Government has provided some $205 million to enable Israel to purchase desperately needed additional Iron Dome systems.

There are three Iron Dome batteries in operation in Israel – in Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheba – with plans to deploy a fourth battery in the near future. The plan is to deploy a total of nine batteries by mid-2013.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated Saturday night, “We will continue to improve home front defense including by means of additional Iron Dome systems, the effectiveness of which was shown again over the weekend."

According to reporting by JINSA Visiting Fellow Yaakov Lappin for The Jerusalem Post, the battery in Ashdod intercepted 11 rockets out of 13 fired into the city; the battery in Ashkelon intercepted one rocket and purposely did not intercept four others since they were heading to open fields; and the battery in Beersheba intercepted 15 and allowed two others to strike open fields.

The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of four to 70 kilometers. A battery consists of a multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.

According to the Israel National News, Iron Dome deployment this past weekend appears to have defeated Hamas, at least for the time being. The terrorist organization has been talking with the new regime in Egypt for another ceasefire after failing to inflict mass casualties or property damage on Israel.

The radar enables Iron Dome operators to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and decide not to intercept it if it is slated to hit an open area, The Jerusalem Post further reported. Each interceptor costs around $50,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.

The results, IDF officers said, were an improvement since 2011, during which the Iron Dome intercepted a total of 33 rockets for a success rate of just 75%. Some of the misses were the results of technical malfunctions that have since been repaired.

Haaretz reported on May 9, 2011 that Israeli Defense Ministry director general Maj. Gen. (res.) Udi Shani said that Israel plans to invest nearly $1 billion in the coming years for the development and production of Iron Dome batteries. "We are no longer approaching this in terms of initial operational capabilities but are defining the final target for absorbing the systems, in terms of schedule and funds. We are talking about [having] 10-15 Iron Dome batteries. We will invest nearly $1 billion on this. This is the goal, in addition to the $205 million that the U.S. government has authorized," Shani said.

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