Most of the rockets stored by Hamas now threatening southern Israel and the Dan Region were manufactured on regular production lines and smuggled into the Gaza Strip through tunnels in the Rafiah region. These imports have strongly reinforced the organization's attack capability against Israel's home front. In a large proportion of cases, the rockets were made in Iran.
In a "Globes" interview today, Tal Inbar, head of the Space Research Center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies, stated, "The backbone of Hamas's missile batteries is the Grad missile, a standard 122-mm rocket with a 20-40 km range and a metal fragmentation warhead designed to cause casualties." He added, "In almost all cases, a reinforced room or air-raid shelter is sufficient protection against a rocket of this type."
Hamas's arsenal, however, is not confined to Grad missiles enabling it to threaten Beersheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Yavne, and the outskirts of Rehovot. Already in Operation Pillar of Defense, it demonstrated for the first time its ability to attack cities in the central region. A rocket called the M-75, based on the Iranian Fajr-5, which Hamas claims is produced in the Gaza Strip, hit a building in Rishon Lezion in that campaign, causing a great deal of damage. The Fajr-5 and its knockoffs can carry an estimated 90 kg warhead.
The launching infrastructure prepared by Hamas for its heavy missiles consists of launching pits from which a multi-barreled launcher can be erected and used within seconds to fire a barrage of rockets at central Israel. Some of these launching pits are located in areas near hospitals and schools in the heart of populated areas and institutions attended by a large number of people, making them difficult to attack because of the risk of civilian casualties.
At the same time, even before Operation Protective Edge began, the Israeli air force had on a number of occasions in recent days attacked some of the launching pits around Gaza, and it is likely that such attacks will expand as the operation develops in the coming days. Extensive attacks on the warehouses at sites used to store the rockets are also expected in an attempt to reduce the arsenal accumulated by Hamas since Operation Pillar of Defense.
On the other hand, before the operation, Israel had already deployed its Iron Dome anti-missile batteries. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has supplied seven of these batteries to the air force's air defense system. Inbar said, "Today, in contrast to the situation at the time of Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF has more Iron Dome batteries and more missile interceptors. The systems themselves have been improved, as have their capability to detect threats and general functioning.
"Hamas knows that even if all its ammunition fell on Israel in one fell swoop, it would not bring Israel to its knees. The threat of rockets from Gaza is a nuisance whose damage-causing ability is limited. In the past, the ratio of rockets to Israeli fatalities was one fatality per 100 rockets. In Operation Pillar of Defense, this ratio already rose to 1:250. The interceptor systems have proved themselves wonderfully well, causing Hamas a great deal of frustration," Inbar declares.
An Israeli security source said in the past that analyzing and weighing Iron Dome's performance in the previous campaigns showed that the system had averaged 90% success. The system has been undergoing regular improvements, thanks to software and hardware revisions jointly led by Rafael engineers and air defense personnel, following constant analysis of various interception events.
The improvements and upgrading of the software system are today enabling Iron Dome to achieve very high interception rates even for the Fajr-5 rockets and their copies threatening cities in the central region. At the same time, the cost of each interception was and remains high: the estimated cost of one Tamir missile interceptor used in the Iron Dome system is $100,000.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 9, 2014
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