Iron Dome in action
Iron Dome in actionIsrael news photo: Flash 90

In the wake of the escalation of rocket attacks originating from Gaza towards southern Israel, the IDF is considering beginning to use the Iron Dome rocket defense system in the communities around Gaza already as of Sunday.

The final decision on the matter is expected over the weekend, after the IDF assesses the situation and decides where, if at all, to place the two batteries of the system, whose purpose to provide protection against Kassam and Grad rockets fired from Gaza. Each battery can protect just one city.

The Iron Dome system is designed to intercept short-range rockets with a relatively small warhead that are launched from a distance of 4.5 to 70 kilometers. Under certain conditions it could also be effective against mortar shells.

In the present circumstances, the system would be able to protect a predetermined area with a size of 10X10 km from rockets and mortars. The system knows how to calculate the path of rockets and mortar shells and avoids shooting down those rockets that would be landing in open areas. Iron Dome is unable, however, to intercept objects that are fired from a distance of less than 4.5 km.

Last month it was reported that Iron Dome is near completion. However, it has not been defined as operational, despite having recently passed a trial run by the Air Force after previously passing tests created by its designers. If it is indeed deployed as of Sunday, it would still be in what is defined as an “experimental stage”.

Meanwhile, the rocket attacks from Gaza continued on Thursday, hitting the Israeli port city of Ashdod as well as at other Jewish communities. One Grad Katyusha missile slammed into an open area in the city.

By mid-afternoon, five rockets fired from Gaza had exploded in various parts of Israel's western Negev. A short-range Kassam rocket landed in an open field in the Eshkol Regional Council district at about 2:00 p.m. Shortly after noon, another Kassam slammed into an open area in the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council district. Close to 11:00 a.m. a rocket from northern Gaza also landed in the Eshkol Regional Council district.