(CNN) – Thousands of rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israeli territory in the past nine days. And every day they have been received by missiles from Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.
“The Iron Dome air defense system has one purpose: to intercept the missiles in the air before they can kill Israeli civilians. We will not apologize for saving lives, ”the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted on Tuesday.
Israel’s military says those missiles intercept more than 90% of targeted rockets. But the Iron Dome doesn’t chase all rockets. In fact, according to official IDF data, the system has destroyed less than half of the rockets and mortars fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Late on Sunday, the Israel Air Force said about 3,100 rockets had been fired from Gaza since the start of the most recent conflict, just over a week ago. About 450 fell short and failed to catch up with Israel. Of the remaining 2,650, some 1,210 had been intercepted.
Given the enormous volume of rockets fired from Gaza, often in heavy bombardment, the Iron Dome ‘decides’ which ones pose the greatest threat to urban areas and infrastructure, ignoring those whose trajectory indicates that they are likely to hit areas. depopulated or the sea. The Israel Defense Forces estimate that there were between 13,000 and 14,000 rockets in Gaza before this escalation began, so targeting seems critical.
Some, of course, make it through. In a session of the United Nations Security Council on Sunday, Tor Wennesland, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, noted that the rockets had reached “the outskirts of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and their suburbs. and Ben Gurion Airport. ‘
“Direct impacts have been reported in multiple locations, causing damage to residential and commercial properties, as well as schools and a pipeline,” Wennesland said.
So far, militant fire has been responsible for at least 12 deaths inside Israel.
The Iron Dome, developed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American company Raytheon, came into operation 10 years ago. It consists of a radar to detect the rockets, a command and control system that analyzes the data provided by the radar and the air defense missiles that are aimed to intercept them. Each missile costs about $ 40,000, making intercepting 1,200 incoming rockets extremely expensive.
While many air defense systems are designed to counter ballistic missiles, the Iron Dome targets unguided rockets that remain low. The system is effective up to a range of 70 kilometers. At the same time, the Israeli army tries to locate and destroy the launchers inside Gaza, many of which are mobile, and the rocket factories that produce them.
Each battery has a fire control radar to identify targets. It also has a portable missile launcher. The system is easily transported, taking only a few hours to move and deploy.
The missile is very maneuverable. It is 3 meters long, has a diameter of about 15 cm and weighs 90 kilograms, according to the IHS Jane’s safety analysis group in 2012.
The warhead is believed to carry 11 kilograms of high explosives, IHS Jane’s said. Its range ranges from 4 to 70 km.
The Iron Dome has been repeatedly upgraded to be able to counter the threat from mortars, which linger in the air for much less time than rockets, and more recently from drones. On May 13, the Israel Defense Forces declared that the system had “intercepted an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the terrorist organization Hamas that crossed from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory”, the first time a drone had been intercepted during a fight.
Israel’s military analysts view the system as a great success in protecting civilians, but acknowledge that the Iron Dome is just one component of a broader military strategy.
“The IDF does not believe in the possibility of achieving victory in a war, campaign or a limited conflict through defense,” wrote researchers from the IDF Given Center in 2015. “A victory always implies an offensive.”