Tel Aviv: Israel has completed testing its Iron Dome short-range missile defence system, designed to protect the Jewish state from missile attacks by the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas. The first Iron Dome battery is expected to be deployed in the country's south in about six weeks.
Expected to be operational by May, the Iron Dome system is expected to counter Hamas' improvised rockets, called the Qassam. The system will be operated by the Israeli Air Force. Subsequently, batteries will be deployed in the country's north against the Hezbollah's more varied missile forces.
|Arrow-II missile defence system|
"Making Iron Dome operational will transform Israel's political and security situation on the northern and southern fronts," said Pinchas Buchris, director general in the ministry of defence.
The Iron Dome is the second tier of a planned three tier missile defence system. The high-altitude, long-range, Arrow-II system is designed to take on ballistic missile threats, primarily from Iran.
A potential third layer, known as David's Sling, meant to counter intermediate-range missiles, is still being developed.
The Iron Dome system uses small guided missiles to destroy short-range rockets used by the Hezbollah and the Hamas. Though the Qassam barrage from Hamas causes little casualties and minor damage the psychological impact on the populace is great.
The Hezbollah is another cup of tea altogether with a variety of rockets, of various ranges, capable of causing significant damage and casualties.
In the 2006 war the Hezbollah barrage left northern Israel paralysed killing at least 50 citizens.
The Iron Dome project was a direct result of this significant Hezbollah damage.
By now, Iran has a variety of intermediate range missiles capable of targeting any portion of Israel.
Arab defence analysts fear that Israel's missile defence capability, when fully developed, will provide it near immunity from all forms of missile attacks, which is a dangerous portent for the region.