The IDF is preparing a launch site for the Iron Dome rocket-defense system near
Eilat ahead of the possibility that the system will be deployed there if
terrorists in Sinai increase their rocket fire into the Red Sea resort
The IDF operates four Iron Dome batteries and plans to deploy an
additional two within the coming year.
In April, terrorists fired at
least one Katyusha rocket from the Sinai Peninsula into Eilat.
No one was
wounded and the IDF said that it was not surprised due to the increase in
Palestinian terrorist activity in Sinai. IDF assessments are that the rocket was
either fired by a Palestinian rocket cell from Gaza – affiliated either with
Hamas or Islamic Jihad – or by Beduin freelancers who work for the Gaza-based
“We are starting to think about how to defend Eilat if
there is a requirement to do so,” a senior officer explained.
Dome system has intercepted over 90 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip since the
first interception in April 2011. IDF plans call for the deployment of 13-14
batteries to effectively defend critical infrastructure and population centers
from short-range rockets in Gaza and Lebanon.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak left for Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday to discuss a $680 million aid package
the Obama administration plans to offer Israel to support the continued
procurement of Iron Dome batteries.
The new aid package comes after the
Obama administration gave Israel $205 million in 2011 and is in addition to the
$3 billion Israel receives in annual foreign military aid from the United
The Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of
4-70 kilometers. Each battery consists of a mini multi-mission radar
manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped
with 20 interceptors called Tamirs.
The radar enables Iron Dome operators
to predict the impact site of the enemy rocket and decide not to intercept it if
it is slated to hit an open area. Each interceptor costs between $50,000 and
100,000 and usually two are fired at rockets slated for interception.