IAF Chief: Iron Dome Can't Completely Protect Israel and Its Citizens

Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel says the Israeli public's expectation that Iron Dome will protect the entire country is unrealistic - 'we won't see results like Protective Edge again.'

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An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 9, 2014.
An Iron Dome launcher fires an interceptor rocket in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod July 9, 2014.Credit: Reuters

The commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, said recently that Iron Dome cannot fully protect Israel and its citizens.

In an interview in the March issue of the air force's magazine, the reporter asked Eshel if the anti-missile defense system – which was widely used during Israel's summer war with Hamas in Gaza and widely credited with saving Israeli lives – could live up to the public's expectations.

"The problem is that the expectation is that Iron Dome will provide a complete solution – that we won’t get hit," Eshel said. "And that is why I am saying here and now, publicly, "We will probably not see the results we saw in Operation Protective Edge [again]."

Eshel continued, "We will thwart much rocket fire and will be effective in many areas, but we won’t know how to fully protect the state of Israel. It won’t happen. We will be harmed, but without Iron Dome we would be harmed even more."

According to Defense Ministry data, Iron Dome recorded an 89.6 percent success rate in intercepting rockets during last summer's war with Hamas in Gaza.

Iron Dome was one of the catchwords of Operation Protective Edge. The short-range rocket-intercept system, developed and manufactured in Israel, went operational in 2011.

Its nine active batteries are deployed across the country, staffed by hundreds of male and female soldiers. During the fighting, Iron Dome, which launches a defensive missile only when it calculates that a rocket is going to hit a populated area, intercepted 735 of 4,600 rockets and mortars that were fired from Gaza Strip at Israel.

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