The anti-missile system has intercepted dozens of rockets but has had several misses, which cost lives.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/22/2011, 10:52 AM
Over 100 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past few days, and the Iron Dome anti-missile system has successfully intercepted dozens of them, according to a report on the IAF Website. A Grad missile slipped through the defenses, however, because of a radar malfunction, causing one death.
The report does not specify exactly how many missiles were successfully intercepted. "I have lost count already," says the Iron Dome unit's commander, Lt. Col. Shabtai Ben-Bocher. "Since the events began in the Eilat sector Thursday, even before the rocket fire began, we beefed up our forces. Since then the two batteries are active continuously, with high intensity and alacrity."
"The combination of highly competent soldiers and commanders and a good weapons system proves itself over and over again in very complicated interceptions," he added.
The Iron Dome operators "encounter new enemy modes of action," he said, and have been able to deal with them well. "Every successful interception, in which we know that we prevented casualties, is a great shot in the arm for everyone here."
And yet the Be'er Sheva Iron Dome unit has also had some misses in recent days. One of these was a Grad missile that slipped through the Israeli defenses, killed one person and injured eight.
"We always knew that the defense is not hermetic," said Lt. Col. Ben-Bocher. "When it happens, it causes sorrow, just like any person feels sorrow when he hears about a casualty. But we are focused and determined to move on, and every result like this just gives us more alertness and energy to make sure we are making the most of the system's abilities and allowing a minimum of 'leaks.'"
After the killer Grad struck Be'er Sheva, commanders held a talk with the battery's soldiers and gave them details of the failure. The event has been investigated and results of the check were transferred to the defense industries who will continue the process.
One of the commanders, Major Itamar Abo, said that residents feel safe because of Iron Dome and have begun looking at the "light show" from their porches instead of huddling in protected spaces during barrages. This puts them at risk, he explained.