Israel’s Iron Dome Mistakenly Fired at Fighter Jet During May’s Gaza Fighting

In May, the Israeli military said that an Iron Dome interceptor missile struck an unmanned drone mid-air during fighting with Gaza

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Iron Dome interceptor missiles (R) and rockets fired from Gaza (L) during May's fighting between Israel and Gaza
Iron Dome interceptor missiles (R) and rockets fired from Gaza (L) during May's fighting between Israel and GazaCredit: ANAS BABA / AFP
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

During the fighting between Israel and Hamas in May, the Iron Dome Missile Defense System misidentified an IDF fighter jet as a Hamas rocket, and accidentally shot an interceptor missile at it, Israeli media reported Wednesday. After the launch, soldiers realized that the object was in fact an IDF aircraft, and destroyed the interceptor missile in the air. The jet was hit by shrapnel from the explosion, but managed to land at an Israel Air Force base.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said in response that this was a complex incident that occurred in the air, "during which the Air Force had to intercept thousands of rockets in the sky while at the same time carrying out their missions and guarding the country's skies."

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A similar event was reported in Haaretz in May, in which Iron Dome soldiers shot down an IDF drone above the Gaza Strip after mistaking it for a hostile aircraft. The incident sent shockwaves through the Air Force and raised doubts whether the IDF is sufficiently prepared and possesses the necessary capabilities to conduct a long period of fighting without harming its own forces. A preliminary investigation showed that the drone operators had not notified the Air Force's control center about their activities, and that the drone was shot down after it could not be identified.

Throughout the flare-up between Israel and Hamas, the Iron Dome carried out operational interceptions of unmanned aerial vehicles for the first time. The Air Force viewed this as a significant achievement that fits into its war plan, which was put together in the past years and is based on multi-dimensional fighting of coordinated air, naval and ground forces.

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