Without innovative anti-rocket system, IDF would be operating inside Gaza by now
By Alex Fishman, Ynet Op-ed
The current escalation in the Gaza region was planned in advance. The IDF in fact set up an “ambush,” while the Southern Command prepared thoroughly days ahead of the current flare-up.
The Air Force deployed in advance the three Iron Dome batteries and covered the Gaza Strip skies with a reinforced presence of aircraft. The results are commensurate with these preparations: With the exception of several wounded civilians caught up in the fire while playing basketball, there have been no casualties thus far.
Moreover, all the rockets that were supposed to land in populated areas were intercepted. This impressive military balance sheet grants the political leadership flexibility and the ability to take decisions free from domestic and international pressure.
Indeed, the orders to the army are as follows: Should the rocket fire continue beyond the point Israel earmarked, the IDF will be given the green light to expand its activities against the Strip, including ground operations. This red line will be affected by the number of casualties and the stamina of a million and a half Israeli citizens in southern Israel whose daily lives are paralyzed.
Meanwhile, a lesson drawn from past experience prompted a change in the utilization of Iron Dome, with the new tactics resulting in an impressive outcome in intercepting barrages of five to six rockets.
Now, Israel is presenting Hamas’ government with a leadership dilemma: In an era where Hamas wishes to portray itself as a pragmatic political party in the eyes of the world, will it have the power and desire to restrain Islamic Jihad fire that also threatens Hamas’ own hegemony in the Strip?
Blatant Israeli message
In Israel’s view, Hamas’ responsibility for events is not only ministerial. The Shin Bet has identified the group’s duplicity a while ago. Hamas’ military wing never stopped its terror activity but is hiding behind the attacks of “subsidiaries” bearing different names.
Israeli officials decided not to make it easy on Hamas given the above the dilemma and keep pressing until the fire abates. The current round of fighting is a blatant Israeli signal: There is no immunity, even in Gaza, to Palestinian terror activity undertaken via the Sinai Peninsula. Indeed, Sinai is a major terror front, and Israel will not tolerate a situation whereby Gaza serves as a base for Sinai attacks.
And on a final note, something about Iron dome. This system has become a political-diplomatic tool, just like any other national defense system such as the fences on the Egyptian and Lebanese borders. At this time, our political leadership can order counter-terror operations in the Strip and sustain fire until taking a decision thanks to Iron Dome’s interception capabilities.
Hence, the system must not be undermined in the framework of the current budgetary battles. At this time, Israel possesses three batteries that are deployed, for the time being, in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba. A fourth battery needed to protect Gaza-region residents will only be received in July of this year.
Overall, Israel needs at least nine batteries. The fifth one will be received at the beginning of 2013 and a sixth one in the middle of 2013. This will exhaust the currently available budget. Yet those who curbed the flow of funds must realize that had it not been for Iron Dome, the IDF would be inside the Gaza Strip by now, with dozens of casualties on both sides.
75% of Gaza rockets blocked by Israel’s ‘Iron Dome’ air-defence system
By Yoav Lemmer, Agence France Presse
JERUSALEM — Israel says its unique “Iron Dome” short-range air defence system is performing well, intercepting the vast majority of rockets fired at southern cities in the latest barrage by Gaza militants.
So far three experimental batteries have been deployed since March 2011 — around Ashkelon, Ashdod and the Negev desert capital of Beersheva, which have a combined population of more than half a million.
Experts say that a total of 13 batteries are needed to give a full nationwide umbrella.
By Monday afternoon, Palestinians had fired more than 200 rockets and mortar rounds from Gaza into southern Israel since a latest round of fighting erupted on Friday, the military said.
Gaza emergency services said that at least 23 Palestinians had been killed and 73 wounded since Friday as Israeli launched 36 air strikes against the territory.
On Monday, 31 rockets headed for urban centres were targeted by Iron Dome, which scored 23 hits, the military said, a 75 percent success rate.
“The system is working very well,” Brigadier General Doron Gavish briefed reporters at one of the batteries in the vicinity of Ashdod, 25 kilometres from the Gaza border.
“Rockets shot at the cities of Israel are being intercepted by the warriors who are operating the system,” said Gavish head of Israel’s national air defences.
Visiting a battery on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of the system’s “impressive achievements.”
“You are doing exceptional work,” he told its crew. “I take the Israeli people’s hat off to you.”
The system, the first of its kind in the world, was developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with the help of US funding. It is designed to intercept rockets and artillery shells fired from a range of between four and 70 kilometres.
Each battery comprises detection and tracking radar, state-of-the-art fire control software and three launchers, each with 20 interceptor missiles, military sources said.
Militants in Gaza and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia have fired thousands of rockets at Israel in the past.
The first batteries were deployed facing the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, from where militants have repeatedly fired improvised rockets, prompting Israel to launch a devastating 22-day offensive into the territory in December 2008.
It is later to be deployed along the Lebanese border, from where Hezbollah militants fired some 4,000 rockets into northern Israel during a 2006 war. It was that experience which prompted the development of Iron Dome.
Israel believes Hezbollah now has an arsenal of some 40,000 rockets.
But a complete deployment is expected to take several years.
Iron Dome joins the Arrow missile defence system in an ambitious multi-layered programme to protect Israeli cities from rockets fired from Gaza or Lebanon, or missiles fired from Iran or Syria.
“It is a new tool being brought into the basket of tools… a tool we didn’t have before,” Gavish said.
“We have something new in the arena that obviously plays in our favour.”
The defence ministry says a third system, known as David’s Sling, is currently being developed with the aim of countering medium-range missiles.
Rafael co Israel
Defense System Against Short Range Artillery Rockets
Shield the skies from rocket attacks, now and tomorrow
Cost effective solution
Day/night and all weather operation
Successful handling of simultaneous firing (concentrated salvos) of a large number of threats
Effective discrimination and handling of threats
Very high percent success rate in intercepting incoming shells and rockets
Reduced collateral damage to the protected area
The Iron Dome is an effective and innovative mobile defense solution for countering short range rockets and 155 mm artillery shell threats with ranges of up to 70 km in all weather conditions, including low clouds, rain, dust storms or fog. The system uses a unique interceptor with a special warhead that detonates any target in the air within seconds.
The Iron Dome radar detects and identifies the rocket or artillery shell launch and monitors its trajectory. Target data is transmitted to the Battle Management &Weapon Control (BMC) for processing. The threat’s trajectory is quickly analyzed and the expected impact point is estimated.
If the estimated rocket trajectory poses a critical threat, a command is given within seconds and an interceptor is launched against the threat.
The interceptor receives trajectory updates from the BMC via uplink communication. The interceptor approaches the target and uses its radar seeker to acquire the target and guides the interceptor within passing distance. The target warhead is detonated over a neutral area, therefore reducing collateral damage to the protected area.