Defense Ministry mulls permanent Haifa Iron Dome

Vilnai says rocket defense system integral part of defending oil refineries which are critical for economy at war time.

Matan Vilnai 311 (photo credit: Yaakov Katz)
Matan Vilnai 311
(photo credit: Yaakov Katz)
The Defense Ministry is considering deploying an Iron Dome rocket defense battery in the Haifa Port to protect critical national infrastructure against Hezbollah rocket attacks, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said on Tuesday.
Vilna’i revealed the deployment plans during a meeting with Pinchas Buhris, the former director-general of the Defense Ministry and the current CEO of Bazan Oil Refineries.
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“The continued work of the oil refineries is critical for the Israeli economy during a time of war,” Vilna’i said.
Defense officials said that Vilna’i was referring to the possible deployment of the Iron Dome in the Haifa Port on a permanent basis.
Vilna’i recently appointed a special project manager to assist the refineries in formulating a protective suite needed to ensure the survivability of the facilities during a future missile attack. Bazan Oil Refineries is the largest oil refinery in Israel and is capable of refining approximately 9.8 million tons of crude oil per year.
The IDF fears that Hezbollah will target the refineries, which are located along the Haifa shoreline, in a future war. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, a number of Katyusha rockets struck Haifa but did not succeed in hitting the refineries.
The Haifa Port is also home to a chemical terminal which includes containers of ammonia and ethylene gas.
Israel currently has three Iron Dome batteries deployed in the South and a fourth is slated to be deployed in early 2012. They have intercepted a number of rockets since the beginning of the year including during the recent round of violence with Islamic Jihad in late October.
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is scheduled to deliver the fourth Iron Dome battery to the Israeli Air Force in the coming months. Since the initial deployment earlier this year, the IAF has located a number of locations throughout the country – including in Haifa and Tel Aviv – where it can deploy the Iron Dome according to operational requirements.