Palestinian terrorists fired more than 160 rockets at dozens of civilian targets from Friday through Sunday, injuring three Israeli citizens and causing extensive damage. The escalated rocket attacks were in apparent retaliation for an Israeli strike against one of the major commanders of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), which was planning terrorist attacks by infiltrating through the Sinai. The commander, Zuhair al-Qaissi, also planned and carried out attacks through the Sinai last August that killed eight Israelis. Three other terrorists were killed in the strike which precipitated a blizzard of rocket fire from the PRC that struck several towns in southern Israel. The IDF responded with airstrikes against rocket launching sites and terrorist camps.
It could have been worse for the Israelis, except their missile defense system, known as “Iron Dome,” intercepted 90% of the rockets that were targeted. Israeli-designed and built in Israel by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Iron Dome promises to be a “game changer” according to some analysts, once it is fully deployed across the southern border.
Late Sunday, it was reported that Israel had informed Egypt that it would halt air strikes at midnight. Hamas has also agreed to a cease fire, although the PRC has not indicated its agreement to halt the barrage. It hardly matters. Although the barrage was carried out by the Popular Resistance Committees and another terror group, the Palestinian branch of Islamic Jihad, the Israelis believe that Hamas enables the attacks, or at best, refuses to prevent them.
Iron Dome has an unconventional history. It took only three years from design to deployment — a rarity among complex weapons systems. The tracking system was developed by Elta, an Israeli defense company while the computer software was created by the Israeli firm Prest Systems. The interceptor rocket was built by Rafael.
It is a marvel of technology and can actually determine if a rocket is a threat to a population center, or whether it will land harmlessly in an open field. CNN describes the system:
First deployed in April 2011, the Iron Dome system targets incoming rockets it identifies as possible threats to city centers and fires an interceptor missile to destroy them in mid-air. Each battery is equipped with an interception management center to calculate the expected location of impact, and to prioritize targets according to pre-defined targets. The battery also has firing-control radar used to identify targets, and a portable missile launcher.
This was the first serious battlefield test of Iron Dome and it passed with flying colors. The Jerusalem Post reports that Iron Dome intercepted a total of 27 rockets for a 90% success rate. It is currently deployed around three of the larger cities in the south: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba. The system is entirely mobile and it is expected that once all batteries are deployed, Israel will potentially be able to intercept any missile fired from Gaza.
“The most important question is how would the Iron Dome affect the decisions of Hamas leaders and their Iranian supporters,” said Dore Gold, Israeli Ambassador to the United States. “While Hamas rockets are aimed primarily to target civilians and terrorize the Israeli home front, a secondary and just important aim is to hit strategic sites in the future,” he added. Gold also pointed out that by eliminating the terrorists’ ability to hit strategic targets, it will force them to re-think what kinds of rockets they will have to purchase in the future.
Pages: 1 2