Kiryat Malakhi Fatalities Occurred During Iron Dome Malfunction

Temporary malfunction in missile defense system in the southern town indirectly contributed to the deaths of three Israelis there.

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The deaths of three Israelis in Kiryat Malakhi last Thursday occurred during a technical malfunction that affected the Iron Dome battery that was stationed next to the southern Israeli town.

The malfunction caused the unit to shut down for half an hour. As a result, one of a volley of rockets fired from Gaza toward Kiryat Malakhi wasn't intercepted and scored a direct hit on a building, killing 27-year-old Mira Scharf, 46-year-old Aharon Smadja and 27-year-old Itzik Amsalem, who were inside the building. 

After 30 minutes' downtime, during which the rocket that hit Kiryat Malakhi struck, the Iron Dome battery went back into service and resumed intercepting rockets fired from Gaza.

Yair Ramati, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Israel Missile Defense Organization, refused to respond to any questions about specific malfunctions that may have occurred with the system. However, he explained, "When specific malfunctions occur, the crew receives the data and investigates. Most of the lessons are technical, but some are operational as well. There isn't 100 percent success. No system gives a 100 percent success rate."

Mira Scharf was a key activist at a Chabad House in India and thousands of Jewish backpackers and businessmen that visited the center in New Delhi in recent years knew her, her husband Shmulik and their three children, who were wounded in the rocket attack.

Aharon Smadja was a well-known community activist in Kiryat Malakhi and owned a snack bar that served neighborhood residents. He left behind him a wife and three children.

The third fatality, Itzik Amsalem, was killed after he refused to move to a bomb shelter and decided to stay on his apartment balcony so he could photograph the Iron Dome battery intercepting rockets. Amsalem's mother said that her son stood on the balcony and tried to photograph the rocket as it landed a direct hit on the building, causing his death.

Mira Scharf's funeral in Kiryat Malakhi.Credit: Emil Salman

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