News / Middle East

Israel: Iron Dome Intercepts 90 Percent of Rockets

An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, Irael, July 9, 2014.
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod, Irael, July 9, 2014.

Israel's Iron Dome interceptor has shot down some 90 percent of Palestinian rockets it engaged during this week's surge of Gaza fighting, up from the 85 percent rate in the previous mini-war of 2012, Israeli and U.S. officials said on Thursday.

Seven batteries of the system, made by the state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd and partly funded by Washington, have been rotated around Israel to tackle unprecedented long-range salvoes by Hamas guerrillas.

Rafael said it had been working on improvements to Iron Dome, which is designed to fire guided missiles at rockets that threaten to hit populated areas while ignoring others.

There have been few injuries and no fatalities from rockets that hit towns or cities - results that also reflect Israel's extensive investment in air raid sirens and shelters.

“We've been constantly fine-turning the programming of the system, including during the fighting. Our engineers are on the ground, with the military crews, analyzing each interception and making adjustments to get the best results,” said a Rafael spokesman.

Missile expert

Uzi Rubin, an Israeli missile expert, also credited accrued experience in using the system which was first deployed in 2011.

“Iron Dome's successes are the result of a variety of factors, including practice, and the rates could get even better,” Rubin said. But given the 10 percent failure rate, he cautioned Israelis against complacency, saying “Even the best-maintained car eventually gets a flat tire.”

An Israeli air force officer said that the system had had “approximately 90 percent” success since violence escalated sharply on Tuesday.

A U.S. official who monitors the system's performance said of the Israeli finding: “We believe that to be very close.”

Israel said that of more than 320 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, at least 72 were intercepted while most of the rest fell harmlessly in open areas.

At least 71 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in Israeli military strikes since Tuesday, Gaza officials said.

Iron Dome was initially billed as providing city-sized coverage against Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of between 5 km (3 miles) and 70 km (42 miles).

Versatile use

Addressing a Tel Aviv conference hosted by Israel Defense magazine on Monday, Avi Serfaty, deputy general manager of Iron Dome radar manufacturer Elta, said the system could now provide defense at distances of up to 150 km (95 miles), potentially allowing more versatile use of batteries deployed nationwide.

Elta is a subsidiary of state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries.

Since Tuesday, Hamas and other Gaza guerrillas have launched rockets as far as 115 km (73 miles), threatening Israel's commercial hub Tel Aviv, northern Haifa port, the holy city of Jerusalem and a nuclear reactor in the southern town of Dimona.

Some of the long-range rockets have been Syrian- and Iranian-supplied M302s with 144 kg (317 lb) warheads, Israeli experts say, while others are locally made M-75 rockets with much smaller explosive payloads.

Israeli officials have warned against so-called “Iron Dome tourism,” where the public, reassured by the system's performance, watch interceptions rather than taking cover. 

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Comment Sorting
by: Hank Gibson from: Portland Oregon
July 11, 2014 1:14 PM
NPR reported Iron Dome has almost a
99% failure rate like most missile defense systems.
Shooting down a missile with a missile is very difficult.
I heard this several times while serving in the Air Force.
In Response

by: Abe Bird from: Brussles
July 14, 2014 7:35 AM
You have served in an old fashion Air Force, then. But Israel developed a missile system that meet the technological requirements to intercept rocket of small rang (as well other systems - Arrow and David Sting for long and middle range distance). Sorry to disappoint you but Israel leads the new technology needed, and she share the knowledge and patents only with the US.

by: habib from: freetown
July 11, 2014 4:14 AM
the palestain will never accept any solution rather than the 1967 borders

by: Patrick Kelly from: San Francisco
July 10, 2014 8:12 AM
One of the major barriers to the creation of two contiguous, sovereign states for Palestinians and Israelis is the existence – and continuing growth – of illegal Israeli colonies (widely called "settlements") on land long recognized by the United Nations as part of Palestine. Despite a repeated international condemnation, including a UN General Assembly resolution and a ruling by the International Court of Justice, the population of these 121 settlements has grown by an average of 5% annually since 2001. That compares to an average growth of just 1.8% for the population of Israel proper.

1 - Israel want to expand its boarders. So did Germany under Hitler.
2 – Israel tries to make life intolerable for the Palestinians in Gaza so they will leave the area not unlike what Hitler tried to accomplish with the Warsaw Ghetto.
3 – After purposely inciting violence, Israel uses any pretext it can as an excuse to use disproportionate force to achieve its goal of driving Palestinians off Palestinian land.

All of this qualifies as war crimes and the UN needs to stop taking a hands off approach with Israel, bring in UN peacekeepers and detain and arrest anyone guilty of war crimes or other human rights abuses including those at the highest levels of the Israeli government. Until this is done, there will be no peace in the Middle East.
In Response

by: NItzan
July 10, 2014 10:49 AM
You know what is a war crime? Using civilians as human shield to protect military sites. That is what the Hamas is doing in Gaza. How do I know? Well, it is well known to everyone for a long time now, but now Hamas is shamelessly admitting it over their national TV and call all civilians to gather around targeted sites to increase the civilians death toll on their side. This is not some Israeli "propaganda" like you would love to believe, look it up - Hamas officials publicly calling for civilians to be human shields in Gaza.

So this is the war crime. Shooting to source of fire or to a military target (e.g. missiles storage) and hitting civilians there, is not. Look it up in the Geneva conversion text (if common sense isn't enough here).

And most amusingly, you are talking about Hitler? Did you ever read the Hamas charter? The one that defines its vision and agenda? I bet you didn't, like all other outsiders that have a strong opinion about the Israeli Palestinian conflict despite knowing really nothing about it. So read that charter and see how it calls for the death of all Jews, and call it a divine commandment to Muslims.

It is an interesting thing how outsiders like you (with the strong opinion about this conflict) call Israel reaction to rockets continually fired at their civilians population deliberately (no argue about that at all, by admission of Hamas, and reality) call to a military action to stop it, disproportional. What is the proportion that you would see fitting, if your house was under constant fire and you couldn't take your kids to school? Would you call to your government to have fare fight with the weaker enemy? Maybe wait till some people, your kids maybe, get hit?

So keep being safe there is SF. (BTW, any native American reservations around your place where you live, or are they all gone? just wondering...)
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
July 10, 2014 10:40 AM
The US sitting on the UN Security Council, will veto any UN resolution condemning Israel for anything.... (but then), the US led the charge against Libya to kill Qaddafi and his sons, for doing the same thing Israel is doing now? .... CRAZY isn't it?... how the US views things differently?

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