Jerusalem, Aug. 22 – Palestinian terrorists based in Gaza are changing their tactics in attacking Israeli civilians in response to the success of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system in saving lives, defense analysts say.
In a four-day period starting Aug. 18, Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza armed and financed by Iran fired over 100 rockets and missiles at Israeli cities in the south killing one person and injuring several more. This followed an unprovoked series of coordinated attack on buses and cars in southern Israel on Aug. 18 in which eight Israelis were killed and scores injured.
Terrorists fired three more rockets at Israel's South on Monday evening (Aug. 22), violating a ceasefire reached the previous day. One rocket ignited a brush fire, but the latest projectiles caused no injuries.
A statement from the Israel Defense Forces spokesman said: “On Sunday (August 21), over 20 rockets were launched at Israel, one hitting a school in Beersheba. The Iron Dome system successfully intercepted around 10 of these rockets.”
"We've been preparing our forces, even before the rocket attacks began," said Lt. Col. Ben Boucher. "Two batteries have been working continuously and intensively … With every successful interception, we know we prevented injuries. That is an adrenaline rush for everyone here."
"We know that the protection cannot be absolute," Lt. Col. Ben Boucher continued. "This is a sad reality, though we are focused and determined to continue on. We have everything we need to sustain operational readiness in terms of personnel, defenses and munitions."
Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel and its Charter calls for supporters to murder Jews and Israelis wherever possible. In April, Hamas signed a cooperation agreement with the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Currently, Israel has two Iron Dome batteries operational, one protecting the city of Ashkelon and the other defending the citizens of Beersheba, home to almost 200,000 people. The Israeli Defense Ministry and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which manufactures the system, hope to deliver a third battery in September, with a fourth scheduled for delivery within the next six months. Two more batteries are scheduled for delivery by the end of 2012, bringing the total number of operational Iron Dome systems to six.
According to the Haaretz newspaper, Palestinian launch teams realized that the intercept systems deployed in the past two weeks around Ashkelon and Beersheba were successfully protecting the residents of those two cities.
In response, they began targeting the cities of Ashdod and Ofakim, which are not covered by the defense system. And when they did aim at Beersheba, they fired volleys of many rockets almost simultaneously to get through the system. Iron Dome intercepted five rockets, but one penetrated, exploding in a residential area and killing a civilian.
The victim was 38-year-old Yossi Shoshan, who was on his way to meet his wife, who is nine months pregnant, after hearing air raid sirens and becoming concerned for her safety.
Brig. Gen. Doron Gavish, commander of the Israel Air Force’s Air Defense Corps, said: "This is the first system of its kind anywhere in the world; it is in its first operational test; and we've already intercepted a large number of rockets targeting Israeli communities, saving many civilian lives."