Iron Dome Fails to Intercept for the Second Time

The Iron Dome system did not intercept the missile launched from the Gaza Strip into Moshav Mishmeret on Monday, as well as the missiles launched in the direction of Holon about two weeks ago. Apparently, the absence of an Iron Dome interception in both incidents was no coincidence: the blanket is simply too short

The incident on Monday at Moshav Mishmeret follows another incident, involving a missile that landed near Holon about two weeks ago. In both incidents, the missiles were not intercepted by the Iron Dome system. In both incidents, the launches took place while negotiations with Hamas were underway in Gaza, with the Egyptians mediating. In both incidents, the Palestinians claimed that the missiles had been launched by mistake. In both incidents, the launches involved long range (dozens of kilometers) rockets. There was only one difference – in the Mishmeret incident, a house was severely damaged, so the damage could not be obscured. In the incident near Holon, nothing was damaged, so it was not reported to the public.

Apparently, the absence of an Iron Dome interception in both incidents was no coincidence. The blanket is too short. That's the reality. Even if more systems and interceptors are currently in production, it will take time and require funding. In essence, the Iron Dome system was intended to protect strategic sites – not cities. When you have a finite amount of Iron Dome batteries, the IDF must decide what to protect first – strategic sites? IAF airbases? Cities? Settlements? Where do you deploy the Iron Dome batteries remaining available after having taken care of the strategic sites and IAF airbases?

Another important element is intelligence. In order to effectively manage a short blanket, the intelligence needed must be as accurate as possible to allow effective risk management. How effective? As a start – effective enough to anticipate launches into the Dan Region while negotiations with Hamas are underway. In this case, the intelligence failed twice. A launch of this type may have been anticipated, but as far as the scale of priorities was concerned, that risk had been rated lower than the probability of launches into other areas of the country.

Another question is how many Iron Dome batteries are needed in order to protect an area such as the Dan Region. Every air defense system has a ground area it is assigned to protect, given the type of interceptor and the type of threat, as dictated by the positioning of the Radar system and the deployment of the launchers. In principle, a single, properly positioned battery, with optimally deployed launchers, can protect the entire Dan Region. Accordingly, a single battery may be sufficient to protect the Sharon Region as well. This remains an open question for the IDF.

There can be no doubt that the two missile launches of the last two weeks in the direction of the Dan Region, along with the dozens of launches in the last few years toward the Gaza Envelope area that had not been intercepted, highlight the fact that even the effective coverage provided by the Iron Dome system has limitations. Will Israel acquire a sufficient number of batteries for the entire country? Well, according to an open report by the IDF, the aspiration is to reach a total of ten batteries by the end of 2019. Will that be enough for the entire country? If that is the plan of the IDF, then it must be sufficient in view of the existing risk analysis.

 

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