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Shield of Iron

Avi Friedman

Initially greeted with skepticism, Iron Dome proved to be a game changer, proving its mettle 421 times during the IDF’s nine-day Pillar of Defense Operation to quell rocket fire from Gaza. This surprising shield of defense turned former detractors into supporters, although even its staunchest benefactors warn that no antimissile umbrella can keep out a rain of rockets forever.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

iron domeEven judged by the world-class standards that the IDF is known for, the performance of the Iron Dome missile defense system was impressive. During the eight days of Operation Pillar of Defense, the system brought down 421 enemy rockets, more than one-fourth of all of the rockets fired at Israel, and more than 80 percent of the rockets fired at populated areas in the country.

There is no way to estimate the property and human toll the defensive missiles saved, but it’s safe to say that even at an estimated cost of $50,000 to $100,000 for each Iron Dome missile fired at an incoming rocket, the price tag is much lower than repairing an entire apartment building in a nation where the average apartment costs well over $300,000 — not to mention saved lives.

Furthermore, IDF crews proved once again their ability to react quickly and effectively to a threat: It took just 48 hours to deploy the missile defense battery in the heart of Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood. The benefits of that quick deployment took less than 24 hours to become clear, when Israel’s largest metropolis sounded its first air raid siren since the 1991 Gulf War. As it did hundreds of times in other areas of Israel, the system worked perfectly, shooting down the incoming missile.

During the operation and immediately after, Israeli officials could not line up fast enough to praise the system. Labor Party MK Avishai Braverman said Iron Dome had become a “national hero,” and added that foreign orders for the system had poured in.

Even sworn opponents of Iron Dome were forced to praise the system’s performance in real time.

Dr. Reuven Pedatzur, a former combat pilot and now the academic director of the Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College, is one of them.

In 2006, Pedatzur told Mishpacha that it was scientifically “impossible” to design a missile-based antirocket system against short-range rockets. “When the Ministry of Defense announced that Sderot would be protected upon deployment of the Iron Dome, it was an empty promise,” Pedatzur said at the time.

Compare that to Pedatzur’s comments last Thursday.

“I’ve got no choice but to take my hat off and salute the people who created the system. I didn’t think it was possible, but they did it, and did it very well. There’s no question I was a skeptic about the program, but it’s time for me to stand up and admit I was wrong. I’m happy to have been mistaken,” he said. 

 

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