What is Israel’s, Iron Dome?

What is Israel’s, Iron Dome?

These are questions that many people have been asking in light of the recent outbreak of violence between Hamas and Israel. This post will explore those questions and provide a better understanding of this important piece of technology. What is Israel’s, Iron Dome? 

To do so, it’s important first to understand the state of play between Israel and Hamas. After Israel retreated its settlers and forces from Gaza in 2005, Hamas won elections in Gaza in 2007 and took full control of the Strip. 

Hamas has fought three major wars with Israel since it took control of Gaza. The first was the failed “Cast Lead” invasion from December 2008 to January 2009, which involved airstrikes and ground troops. Although both sides claimed victory (Hamas because it survived, Israel because it severely degraded Hamas’s military capabilities), the fact is that Hamas retained its control of Gaza and Israel’s blockade remained in place.

This brings us to November 2012

When eight days of airstrikes killed 167 Palestinians (almost all civilians) and six Israelis (all of whom were soldiers). Hamas was careful not to violate the ceasefire following the war, while Israel did so intermittently by firing on fishing boats and farmers approaching newly-restricted areas along the border.

Following a particularly egregious violation on the part of Israel that ended with the death of a 9-year old boy, Hamas finally retaliated and began launching salvos of rockets at southern Israel.

Rather than engaging in further violence, Hamas proposed that a ceasefire be negotiated without any preconditions. Unsurprisingly, Israel refused and demanded that Hamas cease all rocket attacks before a ceasefire could be negotiated.

Israel began preparing for a major escalation that would involve a ground invasion of Gaza. In preparation for the inevitable, Hamas began re-digging tunnels that had been previously destroyed and restoring its military capabilities to pre-2012 levels.

Those preparations were part of what led to the current escalation. Israel claims that Hamas has fired over 700 rockets into Israel, while Hamas claims it has fired 160 rockets. The truth is somewhere between those numbers, but even if we use the lower number of 160, that is the equivalent of 1 rocket per hour for a full 8-hour workday.

The reason why Israelis are subjected to this every day is either due to (1) Hamas’s desire for self-defense or (2) the Israeli government’s unwillingness to allow a ceasefire without preconditions. While some would claim that Hamas’s daily launching of rockets proves its desire to provoke Israel into another war, I would like to point out that Hamas has previously demonstrated a willingness to accept a ceasefire.

How Does Iron Dome Work?

 Israel’s missile defense system is called Iron Dome. It is important to note that Iron Dome does not take the form of a single weapon but rather an entire suite of systems. For purposes of this discussion, we will focus on the most relevant one. But it’s worth noting that Iron Dome has three components:

The first component involves early warning radars capable of detecting missiles when they are still in their launch phase. That early warning allows civilians to seek shelter long before the missile hits. It is worth noting that while the early warning is quite useful. Many of the casualties in previous wars happened because people did not seek shelter in time.

The second component is a network of interceptor missiles that destroy the rockets in mid-air. A missile launched from Gaza can reach almost any location within Israel so this network would be the last line of defense.

The first two components are operated by humans, who can choose who to target. Unfortunately, the third component is not. The final part of Iron Dome is a network of cameras. The algorithms that can detect when rockets are about to hit populated areas and automatically launch interceptors.

Is Iron Dome System Able To Differentiate The Rockets?

There is no way for the operators of Iron Dome to differentiate between rockets headed for open fields and those headed for populated areas. Because of this, there are many cases where interceptors were launched even though the rockets posed no danger. For example, in the case of a rocket headed for the sea, it would probably have caused no damage had it hit.

The Israeli government acknowledges that the system has a relatively low success rate. The rockets fired from Gaza are cheap and primitive, making them hard to intercept. To make matters worse, the rockets tend to be small and light.

In other words

Iron Dome is a far more complex system than it might seem at first glance. Despite that complexity, many believe that Iron Dome is why Israel has not suffered greater casualties. They also claim that Iron Dome would be much less effective if Hamas had more advanced missiles.

Given the success of Hamas’s military buildup between 2012 and 2014. It is safe to assume that they will have more advanced weapons next time around.

Bottom Line

Israel has a missile defense system called Iron Dome. Many claims that it is responsible for Israel not having greater casualties. The technology behind Iron Dome is fairly complex, and it has come under some criticism. Another criticism is that Iron Dome would be much less effective if Hamas had more advanced missiles. The future looks grim for Israel, as some claim Hamas will have more advanced missiles. The success rate of the Iron Dome hasn’t been as good as Israel would like. Do we hope you understand What is Israel’s, Iron Dome? As a result, the future looks grim for Israel. Let us know about your frame of mind.

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