Israel's Iron Dome system reassures nation on Gaza
Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile-defense system protected Israeli civilians from Gaza rockets, reducing pressure for retaliatory strikes and giving mediators a window for hammering out a cease-fire.
A cease-fire between Israel and Hamas took hold on Monday, ending four days of rocket attacks and air strikes across the Gaza border that brought the sides to the brink of a major military conflict for the second time in five months.Skip to next paragraph
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A key factor supporting the cease-fire was a new weapons system that allows Israel to protect its citizens and thereby lessen public pressure for swift retaliatory strikes on Gaza.
Though not fool-proof, the "Iron Dome" missile-defense system shot down about 20 militant rockets in recent days before they landed in Israel cities. That provided a window for mediators from Egypt and the United Nations to step in and calm the situation.
Israeli officials had high praise for the system, which was rushed into development following Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon with Hezbollah, when short-range rockets paralyzed Israel despite its aggressive attack capabilities.
"First of all it provides the people better security," said Yosef Kuperwasser, director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry. "It provides us with a wider room to maneuver if our citizens are protected.
"If needed we can have a longer period of escalation and we can sustain it for a longer period of time before doing what is necessary," he added, referring to a major escalation.
93 percent success rate
For the Israeli army, Iron Dome is just one element in a system of pricey anti-missile hardware developed to answer developing threats from just miles a way in Lebanon and Gaza, and as far afield as Iran.
Though the military is still perfecting the system, two batteries were used in a previous round of fighting in April to protect the southern Israel cities of Ashkelon and Beersheva. Use of the interceptor was expanded in the recent standoff, with the system achieving a success rate of 93 percent.