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November 9, 2014 2:11 pm

Iron Dome in Gaza Just a ‘Warm-Up’ Against Massive Hezbollah Threat: Experts

avatar by Dave Bender

Israel's Iron Dome launches a missile to intercept a Gaza rocket during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Photo: Matanya via Wikimedia Commons.

Israel’s Iron Dome launches a missile to intercept a Gaza rocket during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Photo: Nehemia Gershuni-Aylho / CC-BY-SA-3.0.

Israeli officials say Operation Protective Edge and other IDF measures using the Iron Dome defensive anti-missile system are only practice for the next conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to Defense News.

The GPS and radar-linked Tamir interceptors, developed with American funding by arms manufacturer Rafael, hit some 90 percent of the Kassam, Grad, M-75 and similar rockets fired into populated areas by Palestinian terrorist groups in the coastal enclave during the 50-day conflict. That’s up from about an 84 percent success ratio in the previous round of fighting, according to the report.

“The Iron Dome system has inherent capabilities that were not fully tested either in Pillar of Defense or in Protective Edge where, with all due respect, we were dealing with Hamas,” according to Yosi Druker, Rafael’s general manager of the Air Superiority Systems Division.

But, while the 735 intercepts of the Gaza rockets fired toward populated areas was a serious and sustained improvement over earlier software and hardware versions used in Pillar of Defense two years ago, officials are concerned that it still won’t be enough to successfully deal with far more massive fusillades by heavier munitions.

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“In the context of Lebanon, it will be something different,” Druker said.

The Iran-backed Lebanese Shi’ite group claims to have an arsenal of some 100,000 rockets, reportedly mostly hidden throughout south Lebanon. Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed in a recent address that the weapons would hit all of the state of Israel in a future conflict, including Tel Aviv.

“Ben-Gurion International Airport would have to be shut down from early on in the fighting against Hezbollah,” an official told Israel Hayom at the end of October. “Iron Dome won’t be able to duplicate its interception rate from Operation Protective Edge.”

In the 2006 “2nd Lebanon War” with Hezbollah, some 4,500 rockets slammed into Haifa, and other coastal cities, and hammered towns and villages across the north, all the way to Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee. Some 160 Israelis were killed – 121 of them soldiers – close to 500 wounded and some 1.2 million people fled south for the duration of the month-long conflict.

Israel currently has nine Iron Dome batteries, which are often redeployed around the country, according to shifting threat assessments, and is building and deploying at least three more to cover greater swaths of hostile borders.

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