Is­rael’s Iron Dome de­fense pays off

Sys­tem uses cam­eras, radar to track and de­stroy in­com­ing mis­siles

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY KARIN LAUB AND

JERUSALEM | Is­rael’s Iron Dome rocket shield has aced its first se­ri­ous test.

Gaza’s Ha­mas rulers have been care­ful to stay on the side­lines.

And Is­lamic Ji­had — now closer to Iran than is its larger ri­val Ha­mas — is tak­ing the lead in this round against Is­rael.

These are some of the trends emerg­ing from four days of fight­ing be­tween Is­rael’s air force and Gaza rocket squads, trig­gered by Is­rael’s killing of a mil­i­tant leader last week.

Twenty- three Pales­tini­ans have been killed, in­clud­ing five on Mon­day, and about 1 mil­lion Is­raelis in rocket range have seen their lives dis­rupted by the threat of rocket at­tacks, with fre­quent sirens warn­ing them to run for cover.

Egyp­tian truce ef­forts ap­peared to stall, as both sides said they were will­ing to keep fight­ing.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu warned that Is­rael would keep strik­ing those try­ing to harm Is­raeli civil­ians and that the Jewish state is “ready to broaden its op­er­a­tion.”

Gaza mil­i­tants in­sisted that Is­rael stop fir­ing first and that it prom­ise to halt airstrikes aimed at killing Gaza mil­i­tants for good, a guar­an­tee Is­rael is un­likely to give.

Egypt sided with the Pales­tini­ans in their de­mands.

In Is­rael, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and mis­sile ex­perts praised the per­for­mance of Iron Dome, an Is­raeli-made sys­tem de­signed to shoot down short-range rock­ets like those fired from Gaza.

Iron Dome has been rolled out over the past year, and the cur­rent fight­ing poses its most se­ri­ous test. Is­rael has other sys­tems de­ployed against longer-range mis­siles.

Iron Dome uses cam­eras and radar to track in­com­ing rock­ets and in­ter­cepts only those that would pose a threat to peo­ple and prop­erty, ig­nor­ing those that are ex­pected to fall in open ar­eas.

The mil­i­tary said that of 143 rock­ets fired since Fri­day, it tried to in­ter­cept 63 and suc­ceeded in all but nine of those at­tempts.

No Is­raelis have been killed in the cur­rent fight­ing, and prop­erty dam­age has been rel­a­tively mi­nor.

Uzi Ru­bin, a mis­sile ex­pert and for­mer De­fense Min­istry of­fi­cial, said Iron Dome has ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions.

“The per­for­mance up to now has been al­most flaw­less,” Mr. Ru­bin said, adding that the per­cep­tion could change quickly in the event of ca­su­al­ties.

Crit­ics noted that each in­ter­cept costs about $100,000, ar­gu­ing that the cost could be pro­hib­i­tive if Is­rael were fight­ing a fullfledged war.

In the cur­rent round, Is­lamic Ji­had, the sec­ond largest mil­i­tant group in Gaza, has taken the ini­tia­tive.

Is­lamic Ji­had has main­tained close ties to its sole spon­sor, Iran, while Ha­mas has drifted away from its long­time pa­tron in dis­agree­ments over Syria’s bru­tal crack­down.

Iran has pun­ished Ha­mas for re­fus­ing to side with Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad, in­clud­ing by cut­ting fund­ing to it.

Pales­tini­ans in­spect build­ing rub­ble af­ter an Is­raeli airstrike on Ja­baliya in the Gaza Strip on Mon­day. Airstrikes killed two Pales­tinian mil­i­tants and a school­boy while Pales­tinian rocket squads bar­raged south­ern Is­rael.

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