The man who keeps Tel Aviv safe from rockets

“We set up this Iron Dome battery in only 24 hours."

Iron Dome command center 370 (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
Iron Dome command center 370
(photo credit: IDF Spokesman)
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 streets.
“It’s an amazing feeling when we make an interception,” Abu said on Monday.
“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.
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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 said.
“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 kilometers.
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 self-destruct.
“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 with Hamas.
“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.
We’re 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.”