Weapons

IDF releases Iron Dome interception rate

20 July 2014
According to figures released by the IDF, Iron Dome has intercepted substantially fewer rockets during Operation 'Protective Edge' than it did during Operation 'Pillar of Defence', even though the number of batteries has been increased. (IHS)

Israel's Iron Dome system has successfully intercepted 86% of the Palestinian rockets that it has engaged during Operation 'Protective Edge', according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

"Since the beginning of the operation, more than 1,260 rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel," the IDF said in a statement released early on 16 July to wrap up the first nine days of the operation. "Approximately 985 rockets hit Israeli territory and 225 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defence system with an overall success rate of 86%."

Iron Dome is capable of rapidly determining the trajectory of incoming rockets and will only engage those that are assessed to be heading towards population centres under its protection, not ones heading towards unpopulated areas.

The Israeli press reported earlier in the operation that the Iron Dome batteries were achieving a higher interception rate than they did during the Operation 'Pillar of Defence' in November 2012, which the IDF said was 84%, although higher figures have often been reported.

The total number of intercepts achieved during the first nine days of 'Protective Edge' is substantially lower than the one achieved during the eight-day 'Pillar of Defence', during which it hit 421 of the 1,506 rockets that were launched from the Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

This higher figure was achieved even though there were only four Iron Dome batteries deployed at the beginning of 'Pillar of Defence', with a fifth being rushed into service to protect Tel Aviv from new, longer-range rockets.

The IDF had seven batteries at the beginning of 'Protective Edge' and another three were rushed into service thanks to the efforts of defence companies Rafael and Elta.

Iron Dome still has its critics, who say the fragmentation warheads on its Tamir missiles often fail to detonate the warheads of the rockets they intercept, which then fall to the ground, potentially endangering lives.

The IDF released this image on 9 July, showing a rocket that it said had fallen in an open area after being intercepted by Iron Dome. Its warhead has clearly detonated, but it is unclear whether this happened during an intercept or when it hit the ground. (IDF)The IDF released this image on 9 July, showing a rocket that it said had fallen in an open area after being intercepted by Iron Dome. Its warhead has clearly detonated, but it is unclear whether this happened during an intercept or when it hit the ground. (IDF)

This claim is based on the apparent absence of secondary explosions in many amateur videos of interceptions and the assertion that a Tamir can only detonate a rocket's warhead if it hits it head on.

The IDF has rejected claims that Iron Dome is not performing satisfactorily, but has not explained how the Tamirs are detonating rocket warheads.

At the time of writing, there had been only one Israeli fatality in the latest rocket attacks: a 37-year-old man who was killed while distributing food near the Gaza border on 15 July. Palestinian rockets and mortars killed six (two soldiers and four civilians) during 'Pillar of Defence'.

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