Friday, May 14, 2021

Israel’s Iron Dome Defense System

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has heated in recent days, and news outlets are filled with stories of rocket strikes and death tolls, but one of the most important facets of the conflict is Israel’s Iron Dome. The Iron Dome is Israel’s ground-to-air defense system, designed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries. The Iron Dome has the capabilities to intercept incoming ground-to-ground artillery attacks directed at Israeli-populated communities from more than 40 miles away. There is a weakness in this system, however. In the past (during the 2014 Gaza conflict), Hamas fired rockets which did not reach very far beyond the borders of the Gaza Strip; the rockets did not have the ability to reach Tel Aviv. During the 2014 conflict, the Hamas group only fired around a dozen rockets a day, and the Iron Dome intercepted most of the incoming artillery. However, the most recent escalation has proven that Hamas has upped its missile capabilities and can fire more missiles in a shorter period of time.


On May 11th, Hamas successfully fired around 100 missiles in just moments, and many of those attacks were directed at Tel Aviv, according to the Jerusalem Post. While the Iron Dome is still effective and has intercepted many of the incoming artillery attacks, some missiles are getting through. Israeli intelligence officials were aware that Hamas intended to update its missile capabilities to have a longer range and a larger barrage of simultaneous attacks than previously; however, that has now proven to be a present reality. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) must take into account this recent show of force from Hamas when strategizing about how to proceed or how to come to an agreement about a possible ceasefire. While there are plans to increase the Iron Dome’s capabilities in terms of both distance and simultaneous interception, it is unlikely that these plans will come to fruition any time soon. The IDF would be wise to rely more on either ground offensives or ceasefires and less on the defense capabilities of the Iron Dome – in both the current conflict and future conflicts. According to the Jerusalem Post, “If Hamas can pierce the missile shield with 100 rockets in a few minutes twice in one day, how much more damage can Hezbollah and Iran do with the longer, larger and more accurate missiles it possesses?” 


Written by Sarah Wood

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