The Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ air defense system is once again in the news following its stunning performance in the latest Israel-Palestine clash. These systems have reportedly intercepted more than 90% of the rockets fired by Hamas.
In the past 40 hours, Israel has been hit by what is called the largest barrage of rockets (more than 1,000) by Al Qassam Brigades of Hamas, prompting a retaliatory attack by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
At the center of the dispute is Al-Aqsa Mosque, considered the third holiest Islamic site. The same compound houses the Jewish Temple Mount. A confrontation between the Muslims and Jews at the mosque on Friday later escalated into a war-like situation.
Hamas demanded Israel remove its forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque by May 10, 6 pm. Minutes after the deadline, Hamas began firing rockets towards Israeli cities. On May 9-10, over 200 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel.
Following this, the IDF ‘superficially’ damaged the Hanadi Tower (a combined office and apartment building owned by Hamas). The militant group (Al-Qassam) then announced an even larger wave of rocket attacks against Isreal.
The IDF ignored the threat and warned Hamas that it would bring down the entire Hanadi Tower. It also told citizens to evacuate the area.
RAW FOOTAGE: This is the moment the Iron Dome intercepted a barrage of rockets over Tel Aviv and central Israel. pic.twitter.com/8jl8OTgWCl
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 11, 2021
WATCH as the Iron Dome Aerial Defense System intercepts rockets over southern Israel: pic.twitter.com/xUz3bMuTzz
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 12, 2021
Since then, videos have emerged on social media showing Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system operating at its full capability to defend its population from rocket attacks. As Hamas fired hundreds of rockets over Israel, only a few managed to get past the Iron Dome and caused losses to Israeli lives and infrastructure.
The sheer volume of rockets made it impossible for the Iron Dome to make all interceptions, with many rockets managing to hit urban areas in the country. Even then, these interceptions have been termed “extraordinary” by many experts.
These rocket attacks are the worst in terms of quantity Israel has experienced in recent times. They have overwhelmed the Israeli air defense systems.
— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) May 11, 2021
Despite such a challenging environment, Iron Dome was hailed as ‘god’s grace’ by Israelis for its successful interceptions.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad then vowed to intensify the attacks. The Israeli government has already launched a counter-offensive named operation “Guardian of the Walls” in response to the rocket attacks on Monday. Many high-ranking Hamas leaders were reportedly killed by the IDF in response.
“The purpose of the operation is to strike Hamas hard, to weaken it and to make it regret its decision [to launch rocket strikes on Israel],” said Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz.
Reports have indicated that the IDF ground forces might launch a full-scale invasion into Gaza to destroy Hamas. The last time, this happened was in 2014 in an operation dubbed Protective Edge, which led to about 2000 Palestinian deaths: more than half of which were civilians.
To the citizens of Gaza:
The IDF is striking Hamas weapons stores hidden inside civilian buildings in Gaza.
Although Hamas wants to put you in harm's way, we urge you to stay away from Hamas' weapons sites and get to safety.
Our goal is only to strike terror.
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 11, 2021
Iron Dome is part of a future multi-tier missile defense system that Israel is developing, which includes Arrow 2, Arrow 3, Iron Beam, Barak 8 and David’s Sling.
The Iron Dome has been developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, designed to intercept short-range rockets and even small artillery shells fired from as close as 4 kilometers to 70 kilometers away.
The system has been so successful that it has been able to intercept more than 90% of rockets fired by militants over the Israeli population. The system is capable of intercepting small artillery projectiles with such precision, its efficiency against conventional manned and unmanned aircraft including fighter jets and UAVs could be even greater.
The typical air defense missile battery consists of a radar unit, missile control unit, and several launchers, all located at the same site. On the other hand, Iron Dome is built to deploy in a scattered pattern. Each launcher, containing 20 interceptors, is independently deployed and operated remotely via a secure wireless connection, with each Iron Dome battery being capable of protecting an urban area of approximately 150 sq km.