It is safe to say that Israel’s Kipat Barzel (Iron Dome) missile and rocket interceptor system, saved the country’s southern cities Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Beersheva from devastation and destruction, countless fatalities and casualties. The system produced by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. tracked the trajectory of missiles from Gaza and distinguished between those destined to fall within populated areas to those destined to fall in open areas. The former were intercepted and destroyed in the air while the later were allowed to land harmlessly.
Military planners from around the world including Iranian and Hizballah experts stationed at Hamas and Jihad Islami's headquarters in Gaza who monitored the system’s accuracy were deeply impressed by it’s near-perfect record in preventing damage to life and property during seven days of what otherwise would have been deadly missile attacks. On the Israeli side there was no loss of life, very few injuries and little property damage.
The rocket barrages from Gaza into Israel aimed at civilian targets, began on Friday March 11, after an airstrike in which the IDF killed Zuhair Qaisi, leader of the Palestinian Resistance Committees. Qaisi had masterminded several deadly terrorist attacks against Israelis and was about to launch another act of terrorism.
According to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, "Iron Dome's success in intercepting rockets fired against Israeli cities contributes to the security of Israel's people, and gives the defense establishment and the government the freedom of decision and action." This freedom comes with a heavy price tag: the estimated cost of each battery is $50 million and each missile fired costs over $70,000. These things are not for mindless target practice.
The Air Force is expected to have six Iron Dome batteries deployed in 2013 andnd it is believed that thirteen batteries are needed to provide a defense umbrella that can cover the entire country.
When it works, Iron Dome is considered a wonder weapon. But the Israeli designed and built system is not fool-proof. In Beersheba, Iron Dome missed three incoming grad missiles. Two hit buildings including an empty school and damaged cars, but thankfully there were no civilians hurt.
But one shudders to think what the southern part of the country would have looked like with hundreds of rockets and missiles falling on its vulnerable population centers, without Iron Dome.