For Eurovision, Israel Extensively Deploys Iron Dome Systems Across Country

To prevent another escalation after last week's violence, all IDF responses to fire from Gaza must be cleared with senior officers

The Iron Dome air defense system fires to intercept a rocket from Gaza in Ashkelon, July 5, 2014.
Tsafrir Abayov / AP

The Israeli military extensively deployed Iron Dome aerial defense batteries throughout Israel in advance of the Eurovision Song Contest, which begins this week in Tel Aviv.

Air defense reservists, who were called up after last week's round of violence, will remain in their military service until the end of the competition.

The batteries were deployed across the country, with a particular emphasis on the center and south.

Last Monday, Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire after a two-day escalation of hostilities saw nearly 700 rockets fired at Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives, and Israeli strikes in return. Four Israelis and 25 Palestinians were killed in the conflict.

>> Read more: Qatari cash and Egyptian mediators brought Israel-Gaza calm, but for how long? | Analysis ■ Eurovision in Israel is still too tempting a target for Hamas | Opinion

In the south, the IDF instructed its commanders to use their better judgement, and every response to fire – with the exception of mortal danger – requires the approval of senior officers in the Southern Command.

The military understands that the last round of fighting began after the Israeli Air Force struck a Hamas post, killing three members of the group – an incident that Hamas could not overlook. To avoid a similar escalation, the military must exercise restraint.

Last week, after the last round of fighting in Gaza, senior IDF officials assessed that the broad airstrikes Israel carried out in the Strip will win them a few weeks of calm –  and that there is a need for a complementary policy to guarantee long-term quiet.

The officials said that it is not within their power to guarantee that Hamas will follow the same calls for restraint, and will not disrupt Eurovision or fire rockets at Israel.

Within the intelligence community, the prevailing belief is that despite Islamic Jihad's participation in the cease-fire, if its members do not feel like they are receiving their fair share of funds and humanitarian aid coming into the Strip, they will not hesitate to attack.

Israel hurried to meet Hamas' demands last week to establish calm before Eurovision, seeking to show the Egyptians and Qatar that it can fulfill its role in the deal: Widening Gaza's fishing zone, opening trade crossings and returning the oil tankers to the Kerem Shalom crossing.

On Monday, the Qatari envoy responsible for Gaza rehabilitation, Mohammed al-Emadi, arrived in the Strip to coordinate the transfer of 30 million dollars agreed upon in the understandings.