A POLICEMAN surveys a building damaged from a Palestinian mortar salvo in an Israeli community just outside the central Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014..
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)
The IDF is working on a system of mobile sirens that can provide warnings of incoming mortar shells to soldiers stationed in open areas bordering the Gaza Strip, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.
The system, nicknamed “Ronny,” produced by Motorola and developed by the Home Front Command and the C4I (Teleprocessing) Corps, is a smaller, more compact version of the Rotem mobile warning system already deployed along the Gaza border.
According to a senior officer in the Home Front Command, the army has worked extremely hard in the past two years on this system as it realized the need of some units to have lighter, more mobile systems for troops in the field.
The warning system, which can be carried on armored personnel carriers, jeeps and tanks, is able to identify when a mortar has been fired, has a 30-second- long warning siren and is set to be operational within three months after having been thoroughly tested by the Home Front Command, the senior officer said.
During Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Iron Dome batteries intercepted 799 rockets out of 4,594 fired toward Israel. As the conflict waned, Hamas turned to short-range mortar fire, with deadly results, killing both soldiers and civilians who had little or no warning of incoming projectiles.
On the second to last day of the war, four-year-old Daniel Tragerman was killed when a mortar shell fired from Gaza hit outside his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz, sending shrapnel inside. The Tragerman family had three seconds of warning between the sounding of the alarm and the impact of the shell that killed him.
Israel has continuously improved the technology behind the country’s anti-missile systems, such as upgrading the Iron Dome in 2015 “to expand and improve the performance capabilities of the system in the face of an unprecedented range of threats.”
And while there is still no system in place to counter the threat of shortrange mortars with 100% effectiveness, there have been several systems developed since the 2014 conflict aimed to give warning of incoming mortars.
Last year the IDF unveiled the Rotem radar system deployed along the Gaza border and designed to give an additional eight seconds for residents to seek shelter from mortar attacks. The system, designed by Netanya-based RADA Electronic Industries – a manufacturer of tactical land radars for force and border protection – is operational and connected to the National Alert System, and has allowed for sirens to be triggered in areas where previous warning times were insufficient or nonexistent.
Another system, known as Wind Shield and used by the IDF, and developed by Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary ELTA, was delivered to the army in 2014 following Operation Protective Edge. It was deployed at Gaza border areas and was designed to provide a “rapid response solution for tactical forces” as well as several seconds of warning for incoming fire, from rockets, artillery and mortars. It locates the source of the fire and predicts the location of the impact.
Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is also working on the Iron Beam, a system designed to intercept low-altitude and low-trajectory projectiles like mortar shells using a laser beam.
The land-based system uses a pair of multi-kilowatt high-energy lasers (HEL) to disable incoming projectiles once it is picked up by the system’s radar.
Last month the IDF warned that Hamas has restored its military capabilities to their pre-2014 strength and the army has recently trained for situations in which the next war with Hamas would involve communities bordering the Gaza Strip being incessantly pounded with rockets and mortar attacks.
Earlier this week, Construction Minister Yoav Galant, the former head of the army’s Southern Command, told Israel Radio that “the [current] reality... might lead to a situation in which Hamas is drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer.”
In an interview with Channel 2 on Saturday evening Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman disagreed. “I do not know where people get their dates,” Liberman said. “This is ministerial chatter.”
But, he added, while Israel has no intention of initiating a new round of fighting with its enemies, should Israel be pressed into a confrontation, “we will go in at full force, we will not leave one stone unturned.”