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List All Facts and Opinions Print
Mitchell Bard on the Iron Dome
MYTH: "The Iron Dome Missile Defense System negates the need for Israel to engage in military operations against Hamas in Gaza.'"
FACT:  

The escalation in rocket barrages from terrorists in Gaza against southern Israel in 2011 has forced the Israeli government to rush deployment of the "Iron Dome" missile defense system to protect its citizens who live within rocket range. In the beginning of April, two Iron Dome batteries were placed outside of Beersheva and Ashkelon and immediately proved their value by intercepting several GRAD rockets aimed at civilian areas in Israel.527
 
The Iron Dome, jointly developed by the Israeli Defense Ministry and Israel-based Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, is an "outstanding system unmatched by any other in the world." 528 The missile shield comes at a steep price, however, as each battery costs nearly $80 million and the individual missiles are an additional $75,000. 529 The high price-tag kept the Israeli government from purchasing additional batteries, but, after seeing the system's effectiveness, Israel has ordered four additional batteries that are expected to be paid for with U.S. military aid.  Unfortunately, the new batteries will not be ready to use for a number of months.530 Hamas, meanwhile, can continue to fire hundreds of homemade mortars and Qassams, along with Iranian-supplied rockets.
 
With only two batteries in operation, Iron Dome cannot  cover every area of Israel within range of Hamas rockets. Moreover, it does not create an impregnable shield; Iron Dome was not designed to destroy smaller rockets, mortars or anti-tank missiles, a vulnerability that Hamas has already exploited. Since the Dome's deployment, dozens of mortars and rockets have hit southern Israel. 531

Hamas also fired a Russian-made, laser guided anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus that could have killed several children and did severely injure one. 532

 
The anti-missile system is solely a defensive weapon; it does not prevent future barrages.  Therefore, Israel may still need to take preemptive or retaliatory measures against Hamas to protect its citizens.  To maximize its effectiveness, Iron Dome must be combined with offensive military operations against the terrorists in Gaza.  533
 
 
"This is a great technological achievement, it's the first time that these type of missiles have been intercepted ... But we can't cover every house, every citizen, every site in Israel ... Ultimately, our response to those that fire rockets on our cities and on our civilians is to attack them"
 
- Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister  534 


 
527 "Escalation in the South", IDF Spokesperson, (April 10, 2011).
528 Anshel Pfeffer, "Head to Head: Expert Ofir Shoham", Haaretz, (April 11, 2011).
529 Tech Talk, "Israel Deploys Unique, Controversial Missile System", CBS News, (March 31, 2011).
530 News Wire, "Israel's Military Ordering More Iron Dome Defense Systems", JTA, (April 11, 2011).
531Conal Urquhart, "Israel Warns Iron Dome Still at Experimental Stage", The Guardian, (April 11, 2011).
532 Yaakov Katz, "Boy, 16, Badly Hurt After Hamas Fires Missile at School Bus", Jerusalem Post, (April 8, 2010).
533 Matti Friedman, "New Israeli System Alters War Against Gaza Rockets", Associated Press, (April 10, 2011).
534 Conal Urquhart, "Israel Warns Iron Dome Still at Experimental Stage", The Guardian, (April 11, 2011).