Daily Israel Report

Iron Dome Intercepts Three Rockets over Ashkelon

The Iron Dome defense system intercepted three Grad rockets aimed at Ashkelon Sunday morning as Israel debates how to react to Hamas’ war.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/21/2011, 7:52 AM

The Iron Dome defense system intercepted three Grad rockets aimed at Ashkelon Sunday morning while Israel debates how to react to Hamas’ latest escalation in its war on the country.

The new system has proved effective but is far from offering Israelis total protection from missile attacks.

The Netanyahu government earlier this year approved buying four additional battery systems that will not be in operation for at least another 12 months.

The mobile air defense system is being manufactured by Israel’s development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells from a distance of up to 70 kilometers (approximately 45 miles), less than the distance from Gaza to the heart of Tel Aviv.

The Iron Dome can operate day and night and under all weather conditions, but it is very expensive per use, and there are not enough systems in operation to protect several cities at the same time.

Each intercept missile costs between $35,000-$50,000, thousands of times more than the cost of Hamas’s primitive Kassam rockets.

Israel needs at least 20 batteries to protect the country’s borders with Gaza and Lebanon, and only two systems are operating, with a third one expected to be deployed in the next few weeks.