The Israeli army has left a fully operational Iron Dome air defense battery unguarded, Haaretz footage shows, raising possible concerns over the protection of this strategic system intercepting rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
For over 20 minutes, no Israeli soldiers or other security officials were seen at the site in southern Israel, allowing anyone to access it and walk around it undisturbed. A tent at the site, likely used by soldiers or guards, was vacant.
The costly defense system, armed with interceptor missiles, is of utmost importance to Israel; and any damage to its batteries deployed across the country could jeopardize its readiness to fend off an incoming rocket attack.
The Iron Dome has been billed as providing city-sized coverage against Katyusha-style rockets with ranges of between five and 70 km, as well as against mortar shells. The system uses small interceptor missiles to shoot down incoming threats and, according to Israeli officials, has had a 90 percent success rate in engagements on the Gaza border.
Rocket launches from Gaza have increased in recent days, as have Israeli military retaliations on Hamas positions in the Strip. On Monday, an Egyptian security delegation arrived in Gaza to meet with leaders of Hamas and other Palestinian factions, with the restoration of calm in the area the first item on the agenda.
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The Israeli military's spokesperson's unit has yet to comment on the report.