Narrow Miss for Tel Aviv as Rocket Nailed in Air

Iron Dome Intercepts Missile on Final Descent to City

By Reuters

Published November 17, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Israel rushed a fifth Iron Dome air defence battery into service in the Tel Aviv area on Saturday, using it within hours to shoot down a rocket fired at the coastal metropolis from the Gaza Strip.

But the successful interception, witnessed by a Reuters correspondent, appeared to stretch the capabilities of the unit meant to provide coverage for Israel’s biggest conurbation, which includes its main international airport, 15 km (6 miles) inland.

Iron Dome’s radars, linked with other Israeli surveillance systems, spot rocket launches from Gaza, hundreds of which have happened during cross-border fighting that erupted on Wednesday.

The detection sets off sirens in the town targeted so people can shelter while Iron Dome fires a guided interceptor missile. In the case of Tel Aviv, the military says, this alert should provide 90 seconds before the rocket closes in for impact.

But on Saturday it took less than that between the wail of the siren and the explosive collision of metal on metal over a Tel Aviv beach.

The distinctive smoke-cloud left behind, like an inverted tear-drop, was just a few hundred yards above ground - suggesting the rocket was on its final descent when it was knocked out of the sky by one of two interceptors shot at it.

Few of the hundreds of people who had ducked-and-covered on the boardwalk looked upset about what might have been a close call. It was the third rocket launch against Tel Aviv in 48 hours, without damage or casualties being caused.

“Well that wasn’t such a big deal,” said a woman who had watched the interception while clinging for protection to the trunk of a baby palm tree on a traffic island.

POWERFUL WARHEAD

But there was no nonchalance in the faces of police specialists who streamed to the scene in search of debris that might help them determine the design of the weapon used.

Hamas, the Islamist group governing Gaza, claimed the attack and said the rocket was an Iranian-made Fajr-5, which has a 75 km (46 mile) range and a 175 kg (385 pound) warhead – powerful enough to shear through a concrete apartment block.

Israel has been trying to bomb these on the ground, and each one that survives to be launched across the border means a boost in prestige for the outgunned Palestinian guerrillas.

The fifth Iron Dome had not been not scheduled to come into service until early 2013. The four other batteries are all deployed much further to the south, protecting towns close to the Gaza border.

A military spokeswoman said Iron Dome has shot down at least 222 incoming rockets since Wednesday – a 90 percent success rate. Interceptor missiles are fired only when the system calculates the rocket being tracked might hit a built-up area.

Iron Dome was first deployed in April 2011, outside the southern city of Beersheba, going into action immediately in another flare-up of clashes with nearby Gaza.

At the time, defence officials said the system provided protection against rockets with ranges of between 5 km (3 miles) and 70 km (42 miles), as well as mortar bombs.

They have since acknowledged that Iron Dome had proven unreliable for missiles with ranges under 7 km (4 miles).

Made by state-owned Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd, the system is truck-towed for easy transport, and Israel says it needs 13 of them for satisfactory nationwide defence.

Iron Dome, along with Israeli ballistic missile shield Arrow, has received extensive support from Washington, which seeks both to reassure and restrain the Jewish state in the face of the nuclear advances of its arch-enemy Iran.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.