News / Middle East

Israel Successfully Tests Rocket Defense System

Iron Dome defense system uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and can shoot them down within seconds of their launch. The system was developed by Rafael, the Israel Military Industries, at a cost of $200 million.

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Israel is adding an important link to its missile defense shield.

Rocket alarms have terrified Israeli border communities near the Gaza Strip for years. But now Israel has a high-tech answer to the thousands of low-tech rockets that Palestinian militants have fired across the border since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

Israel has successfully tested its Iron Dome defense system, which uses cameras and radar to track incoming rockets and can shoot them down within seconds of their launch. The system was developed by Rafael, the Israel Military Industries, at a cost of $200 million.

Yiftach Shapir is an Israeli expert on military technology. "This is really great news," he said. "This is a very advanced system. I think we should all take our hats off for the engineers of Rafael for doing it. It's very unique."

The first Iron Dome battery will be deployed on the Gaza border in the south in May. Later on, it will be deployed on the northern border where Israel faces a rocket threat from the Islamic guerrilla group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But there is a catch. "This system is not 100 percent foolproof, like any other defense system," said Shapir.

Shapir says that means that millions of Israelis within rocket range are not out of danger.

"Under rocket attack, many rockets would be shot down, some of them would still explode in the towns, and residents would have to go back into the shelters," he said.

The Iron Dome, which deals with short-range rockets, will be integrated into Israel's overall missile defense shield. Israel has already deployed the Arrow anti-missile system, to defend against long-range threats, like an attack from arch-enemy Iran.

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