The man who keeps Tel Aviv safe from rockets
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
“We set up this Iron Dome battery in only 24 hours."
Maj. Itamar Abu is keeping the millions of residents of the greater Tel Aviv
metropolitan area safe from death and destruction.
As commander of the
hastily assembled Iron Dome battery wheeled out on Friday to defend Israel’s
largest metropolis, Abu is playing a critical role in ensuring that the powerful
Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets fired from Gaza do not cause carnage on the city
“It’s an amazing feeling when we make an interception,” Abu said
“We set up this battery in only 24 hours. All of the people
involved in this – when we see a missile strike, the incoming threat – feel an
enormous sense of satisfaction.”
Three days ago, Abu was pursuing his
university studies, when he was called back by the air force to command the new
battery, the fifth of its kind deployed to defend the lives of civilians from
Palestinian terrorists’ rockets.
Previously the commander of the Iron
Dome battery that was stationed in Beersheba, Abu wasted no time in working with
technicians from the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which produces the
systems, to get the battery up and running before terrorists could direct the
rocket menace at Tel Aviv.
“We reservists are operating this,” he
“We had to install the interceptor missiles and make sure all the
new equipment was working,” he added.
Hours after the battery went
online, the first long-range projectiles hurtled at Tel Aviv, only to collide
with an Iron Dome interceptor missile.
“We worked all night on Friday to
have it ready,” he recalled.
The system has since successfully
intercepted a number of Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles and Gaza-manufactured
long-range rockets, all of which have a range of approximately 70
Two interceptors are fired at every incoming threat, though
if one missile carries out the task successfully, the second is sent to an open
area, what Abu describes as “the interceptor’s graveyard,” to
“Sometimes, it takes two to fully eliminate the
projectile,” he added.
Rafael has stepped up the production of
interceptors, to ensure that stocks remain replenished throughout the conflict
“Production is more intensive now, in light of the
situation,” he said.
Prior to becoming operational, the battery’s
operators had to ensure that they were coordinated with civilian air traffic
controllers to avoid disruption to passenger jets.
“Flights at Ben-Gurion
[Airport] haven’t stopped because there is no danger whatsoever.
fully synchronized with air traffic control,” he said.
“We can deal with
many rockets fired at the same time,” Abu added. “A rocket falling in this
built-up urban area would be disastrous. We’re driven by the goal of keeping the
people of central Israel safe.”