Daily Israel Report

'Iron Dome' Soldier Risked His Life to Save Others

A soldier endangers himself to repair malfunction in Iron Dome; comrade races to his rescue just prior to system's launch.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 3/21/2012, 2:49 PM

The Iron Dome missile defense system, which can determine where an incoming rocket will land and intercept in mid-air projectiles that pose significant threats, has proven to be extremely successful in combating the recent surge of attacks by terrorists in the Gaza Strip against Jewish communities in southern Israel.

Yet, a recent incident serves as a reminder that it only operates effectively due to the dedication and heroism of the Israel Defense Forces. 

Early last week, Sergeant First Class Eli Zada was repairing a malfunction on one of the Iron Dome batteries when a siren went off, alerting the soldiers of an incoming Grad rocket heading towards Ashdod.

According to Air Force safety regulations, Iron Dome crew members are to remain at a safe distance as the system gets ready to fire an intercepting missile. However, Sergeant Zada knew that the Iron Dome battery would be unable to launch its interceptor if the malfunction was not fixed immediately. Despite the danger presented by his proximity to the system, he nonetheless remained in place to repair the faulty system, the IDF revealed in its official blog. 

Zada knew that he would be unable to safely distance himself from the system before the launch of the intercepting rocket. Luckily, though, his comrade, Eliran Siso saw him and quickly raced to Zada’s rescue and the two soldiers managed to find refuge in the jeep just prior to the system’s launch.

Seconds later, the Iron Dome successfully intercepted the Grad missile heading towards Ashdod. When they returned, they found Zada’s equipment destroyed, melted by the heat. 

Senior Air Force officials praised both Zada and Siso for their acts of heroism in protecting the citizens of the State of Israel and their fellow comrades.

“It could have ended very differently without the resourcefulness of the technician who insisted on staying on the battery at great risk to his own life,” Air Force officials stated. “The incident proves how very different our situation could be without the success of the Iron Dome system and more than that, without the work of the operating troops, technicians and combatants still posted in the southern cities around the clock.”

When asked for a comment Zada and Siso simply replied, “We were just doing our jobs and we are happy that the intercepting missile managed to thwart the Grad rocket fire.”