Anti-missile system is set to be deployed in Israel in November.
After passing its final operational test on Monday, the Iron Dome anti-missile system is set to be deployed in Israel in November, and residents living within rocket range of theGaza Strip are greeting the announcement with both relief and dismissal.
Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, whose city was bombarded by Qassam and Grad rockets during Operation Cast Lead, welcomed the impending deployment of Iron Dome, which he said would make a significant improvement in the quality of life of his city’s residents.
“I very much hope that one of the Iron Dome teams will be deployed in Ashkelon, because it can ensure us protection,” Vaknin said on Tuesday. “We took hundreds of rockets and Grads in Cast Lead, so we deserve a system like this.”
Vaknin called the news “very positive” for Ashkelon and vowed that the defense system would increase the deterrence against Israel’s enemies, as well as feelings of security among the public. “It’s expensive, but what can you do, it’s for the sake of security,” he said, when asked about what many consider the platform’s prohibitive cost.
Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i said later in the day that Iron Dome would not succeed in intercepting all of the rockets fired into Israel. “It is more likely that it will intercept about 80 percent,” he told Israel Radio.
Vilna’i said that residents of Gaza-belt communities would continue to be threatened by rockets for “years to come.” He added that the IDF would not deploy the system along the southern border immediately, but would do so based on operational requirements.
Development of Iron Dome has cost over $200 million, and the program has come under repeated criticism because of its high cost. The system operates by identifying an incoming threat and then firing a missile to intercept it in mid-air. The missiles cost tens of thousands of dollars each, while the crudely-made rockets they’re meant to take down cost very little.
In an article on the CBN News Web site on Wednesday, Yossi Drucker, director of the Iron Dome project, said each Tamir missile would cost $100,000.
Military analyst Reuven Pedatzur is less than thrilled about the system, which he has referred to as “a scam.”
“If each missile we fire costs $100,000, and each Qassam costs $10, $20, then all they’ll need to do is shoot as many rockets as they possibly can until we go broke. Hizbullah alone is believed to have over 150,000 longrange rockets. We can’t afford this.”
Pedatzur called statements that Israel now has the means to solve all of its missile and rocket threats “nonsense and delusional,” citing the short flight time of most projectiles fired at Israel, and the time it takes for Iron Dome to identify and intercept a threat.
“The system can’t defend against anything with a range of less than four and a half kilometers, and also possibly projectiles with a range of up to 10 km,” he said. “It can’t protect Sderot or the western Negev because there isn’t enough time, enough range. The flight time of a Qassam is 14 seconds, and it takes Iron Dome 15 seconds to identify a threat and fire a missile.”
Pedatzur added that the system can’t target mortars, which were heavily used by Gaza militants during Cast Lead.
“Basically, the whole story, that they have solved the threats facing Israel, is nonsense, it’s delusional.”
Sderot resident and director of the Sderot Media Center Noam Bedein was similarly underwhelmed by news that Iron Dome was on its way to deployment, saying that it won’t provide protection to the western Negev town.
“Iron Dome is supposed to work only on objects fired from over 4 km. away, so those of us on the border with Gaza won’t be protected. Here in Sderot, everyone understands that it won’t protect the people.”
Bedein added that if the government was so sure about the effectiveness of Iron Dome, it wouldn’t have spent “half a billion dollars turning us into the bomb shelter capital of the world.”
Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.