The IDF is preparing for an increase in rocket fire from the Gaza Strip as it
expects Palestinian terror groups will try to test the Iron Dome anti-rocket
defense system, which was deployed on Sunday for the first time outside
Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish, commander of the IAF Air Defense
Division tried to downplay expectations from the Iron Dome, which he described
as providing “good but not hermetic” protection.
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“The protection provided
to the city is good, but this is still an operational test stage and it is not
hermetic,” Gavish told reporters, at the site of the battery near
Gavish said that the deployment of the Iron Dome was part of
the IDF’s wider strategy of using offensive as well as passive defensive means
to combat Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza.
He said that despite the
Iron Dome deployment, the public must continue to listen to the Home Front
Command’s instructions regarding what to do in the event of a missile
Gavish said that the battery would be mobile, moving according to
operational requirements, and the decision to launch interceptors would be made
by commanders at the battery in real time. It is possible that the second
battery will be deployed near Ashkelon later this week.
There had been
some hesitancy in the defense establishment about deploying the Iron Dome
outside of Israeli cities. Some officials believed the system should be deployed
outside of bases to provide the IAF with protection in the event of a larger
conflict and allow for continued operations in the event of an
Iron Dome is designed to defend against rockets at a range of
4-70 km. Each battery consists of a multi-mission radar manufactured by Israel
Aerospace Industries and three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also tried to lower
expectations that Iron Dome would provide complete security, telling the cabinet
Sunday that the system could not protect every house, school and installation in the country.
“Israel has been under the
threat of missile attack for 20 years, since the [first] Gulf War. I don’t want
to create the illusion that Iron Dome, which we are deploying for the first time
today, will provide a full or comprehensive answer,” he said.
said that the Iron Dome system was still in its experimental stages. He said the
true answer to the missile attacks was a combination of aggressive deterrence,
preventive measures and the resilience of the government and the
In any event, Netanyahu said, Israel holds Hamas responsible for
anything that is fired from the Gaza Strip. He said that while Israel was not
interested in escalating the situation, “we will not hesitate to use the might
of the IDF against anyone who attacks our people.”
He reiterated that
every country has both the right and the obligation to defend its
The prime minister said that, from a security point of view,
the last two years – during which Israel adopted a policy of “systematic and
consistent responses” to any attack – have been the quietest two years in the
But, he said, “In the last two weeks, various elements have
tried to violate the quiet and the security to which we have become accustomed
over the last two years. Naturally, we are interested in quiet and
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, meanwhile, briefed the ministers
on the situation in the South over the last two weeks, saying that the terror
organizations have taken “harsh blows” over the last 10 days, with 13 terrorists
killed by IDF action, dozens injured, and the terrorist infrastructure hit.
During this period, four Palestinian civilians were also killed.
Sunday, two Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed after the IAF struck a terror
cell as it was planning to fire rockets into Israel from the northern Gaza
At the same time, Barak said, more than 100 mortar and rockets
were fired on the South, leaving three people wounded, and a number of buildings
He said that while the Israeli fire was pinpointed and for the
most part hit those targeted, the Palestinian fire was indiscriminate and aimed
at large communities.
Regarding the deployment of Iron Dome, Barak said
that it is not a “100 percent solution” but will gradually improve Israel’s
Noting that in recent years Israel fortified school buildings in
the communities near Gaza, Barak said it was not possible now to do the same to
every school building in the country that is inside the widening missile
Vice Premier and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom told
the cabinet that while Iron Dome is important, Israel cannot only think in terms
of defensive measures, but must always keep on the table the option of going on
“Unequivocal Israeli declarations about the possibility of
a large-scale operation and targeted assassinations undoubtedly have a deterrent
effect,” he said.
Members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee had militant tones in their voices during a Sunday visit to the
rocket-plagued south, with chairman Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) warning that “Israel
cannot hide behind an Iron Dome. Everybody who harms our children must bear the
Following the recent increase in rocket fire, the
committee decided to hold its meeting in Beersheba, together with mayors of
southern towns impacted by the rocket fire.
Mofaz said that the committee
had come to show support for local government leaders “who are coping with the
helplessness being demonstrated by the State of Israel.”
government’s policy is an incorrect one that has harmed Israel’s deterrence,
which has declined since Operation Cast Lead,” Mofaz complained. “It is the
terror organizations that have determined the quality of life in Israel in the
most recent round of conflict.”
Beersheba Mayor Ruvik Danilovich told MKs
that “it is impossible to continue to live in uncertainty and to maintain a
routine when, at any given moment, a rocket could land on us. No country can
accept this situation; it is impossible to gamble with residents’
Danilovich said that he welcomed the government’s decision to
deploy the Iron Dome rocket defense system in the South, but added that he
understood that even the cutting-edge system “is not a hermetic seal.”
Avi Dichter (Kadima) described as an “error” the decision not to deploy more
Iron Dome batteries to offer coverage to a larger area.
developing in Gaza the offensive abilities of a military organization and the
State of Israel cannot allow itself a situation like this. It cannot be that the
state does not manage to find NIS 40 million in funding, which could solve the
entire problem of defense,” Dichter continued.
Kiryat Malachi Mayor Moti Malcha, told the committee that he had a specific
fear: the dangers of the 70 tons of ammonia currently being stored in the
“If one rocket hits the containers, half of the city disappears. I
was promised that they would be secured, but nothing has been done,” said
“I believe that the best defense is offense, but if there isn’t
an offensive, then at least offer defense,” complained MK Arye Eldad (National
“While we argue about the nature of our response, armored trucks
continue to shuttle money to Gaza from Israel.”
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