Fighting between Gaza and Israel escalated Sunday following airstrikes by the two countries. As Israel pounded Gaza with rockets and mortars, the Palestinian death toll rose to 23, including two pregnant women and two babies; while four Israeli civilians were killed by Gaza attack.
The bloodshed marked the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since the 2014 war. With Palestinian militants threatening to send rockets deeper into Israel and Israeli reinforcements massing near the Gaza frontier, the fighting showed no signs of slowing down. The outbreak of violence appears to have begun on Friday when a sniper wounded two Israeli soldiers. By Sunday, it had flared up to a display of firepower by both sides.
As per the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Gazans had launched 600 projectiles in two days in their territory. The IDF also said that it’s Iron Dome aerial defence system had intercepted dozens of the incoming rockets and shot many of them.
The Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defence system developed by Israel to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from short distances. The system detects rockets 4 to 70 km away and will engage with interceptors to destroy targets mid-air.
The Iron Dome completed its final series of testing in July 2010 and was fielded and declared operational in 2011. According to the Missile Threat website – a product of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) – the complete system costs around $100mn per battery.
The initial funding and development of the Iron Dome system was provided and undertaken by Israel. According to the Missile Threat, the United States provided funding to the system starting in 2011.
According to its manufacturer, Iron Dome will operate day and night, under adverse weather conditions, and can respond to multiple threats simultaneously. The Dome has three central components – detection and tracking radar, the weapon control system and missile firing unit.
There are 10 Iron Dome batteries that protect Israel, and each battery includes three to four stationary launchers with 20 Tamir missiles and a battlefield radar, according to aeronautics firm Raytheon, one of the collaborators on the project. Tamir missiles feature electro-optical sensors and steering fins with proximity fuze blast warheads, that explode on contact with another missile.
According to Raytheon, each of the Iron Dome batteries can defend up to nearly 60 square miles, but the systems are strategically placed around cities to intercept threats headed toward populated areas and ignore those fired at uninhabited regions. This is believed to be a cost-effective approach to minimizes unnecessary interceptor launches given the cost of each missile.
— Evan Kirstel (@evankirstel) May 5, 2019
During a November 2012 conflict with Hamas, Israeli officials claimed that Iron Dome intercepted 85 per cent of the 400 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip that was projected to hit civilian population areas.
The Israeli military on Sunday said it struck 250 targets in Gaza, including weapons storage, attack tunnels and rocket launching and production facilities. It also deployed tanks and infantry forces to the Gaza frontier, and put another brigade on standby.