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Ear to the Ground

What Is ‘Iron Dome,’ Israel’s Not-So-Secret Weapon?

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Posted on Jul 9, 2014

  U.S. Ambassador Daniel B. Shapiro, right, tours an Iron Dome Battery in southern Israel. U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

News reports on the exchange of missile and rocket fire between Israel and Gaza make frequent references to something called Iron Dome. So what is it? Does it work? And who pays for it?

According to The Guardian, Iron Dome is a rocket defense system that uses guided missiles to intercept the homemade rockets launched from Gaza. Using radar, the system identifies potential targets and launches Tamir missiles at those deemed a threat. Each missile costs $95,000, so Gazan rockets headed for “open ground” are ignored.

The system can operate autonomously, both in deciding to launch an interceptor missile and if a missile loses contact with the ground.

In the past, Israel has claimed a successful interception rate of 84 percent.

The system was developed in Israel, but the United States contributes $174 million annually to its funding. The House has voted to double that budget.

Rockets from Gaza are flying deeper into Israeli territory than they have before, but as of this posting have not killed anyone.

Since military action began Tuesday, Palestinian authorities report 47 deaths, most of them civilian. Some of the rockets fired from Gaza were reportedly aimed at Israel’s nuclear facility in Dimona.

Below: Raw footage of Iron Dome intercepting a target.

 

—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer

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