Dome, Sweet Dome

“According to Anshel Pfeffer”: in _Ha’aretz_, the Israeli Defense Ministry has announced that the “Iron Dome”: short-range missile defense system will soon be up and running:

bq. Defense officials predict that the system will be up and running by next year and will protect 95% of people in the area around Sderot and Ashkelon from rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip.

Unfortunately, this statement doesn’t appear to be accurate. Iron Dome can’t stop mortars — the interceptors just don’t fly out quickly enough. Some rockets also have flight times too short to be intercepted. This is part of why “thousands of houses”: “in Sderot”:, close to Gaza, are being heavily reinforced, a decision made back in February 2008:

bq. The fortification proposal approved on Sunday was based on the effective range of the “Iron Dome” anti-rocket system, which is currently under development. Recent tests found the system effective against rockets fired from more than four kilometers away, but not against those fired from closer range.

Oddly, it was Amir Peretz, a longtime Sderot resident who was then the Defense Minister, who “selected the Iron Dome system”: Perhaps it was the least bad option. Back in November 2006, a rocket from Gaza landed “right on Peretz’s street while he was at home”:,7340,L-3328341,00.html, killing a woman passing by and tearing the legs off one of the Defense Minister’s bodyguards.

Short-range missile defense has a troubled history in Israel. It’s clear that defensive systems go against the grain of the defense establishment, which is acutely conscious of the country’s lack of strategic depth, and believes strongly in hitting first. All this has been going on for years, but according to Pfeffer, development work has only recently kicked into high gear:

bq. The defense establishment recently acquired rabbinical approval for workers from Rafael, the Israel Arms Development Authority, to work on Saturdays and conducts the tests 24 hours, seven days a week.

The doctrine of carrying the battle to the enemy does much to explain why “Israeli responsibility for the alleged strike(s) in Sudan”: seems “so credible to many”:, but there’s still no short-range defense in place, despite a decade-long requirement.

One thought on “Dome, Sweet Dome

  1. Yossi

    Note that the 95% figure is not the kill rate but just a way to say that 5% of the inhabitants live too close for successful interception. The actual efficiency is probably way lower.

    Intercepting the cheap homemade Kassams with the costly Iron Dome rockets (more than $50,000 each) doesn’t make sense economically especially as there are more cost effective alternatives.

    The IL MoD refused to test the C-RAM system used in Iraq (which does stop mortar shells) nor the laser canon he developed jointly with the US. Rumors were that Iron Dome development is financed by Singapore and it may back down if Israel uses another system. It’s seems more reasonable that the government cynically used the rocket attacks as an excuse for the siege and constant drone killings in Gaza and the Kassams were launched mainly in revenge. The people of Shderot are mostly lower class and have negligible political power.


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