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Grad Missile Hits Beer Sheva

Major Failure of Israeli Iron Dome Shield



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Today, Saturday, February 18, 2012, a Grad missile landed in the outskirts of Beer Sheva just before noon. It caused no damage. The firing of the missile was detected; the alarms in Beer Sheva subsequently alerted denizens that a rocket was approaching. However, the Israeli Iron Dome missile shield system failed to intercept the rocket. Yesterday, two Qassam rockets landed near Ashkelon. They were detected, the alarms were activated, but Iron Dome failed. Shortly afterwards, another rocket landed in the area of the Eshkol Regional Council with similar results.

Iron Dome near Sderot

Iron Dome near Sderot | Mobile Platform


These events show that Israel’s claims regarding its defensive capabilities against missiles are false. This is of extreme importance in the days when a missile war in the Middle East is probable. The Iron Dome capabilities to shield Israel from missile is just another instance of Israel bluffing Iran. A few days ago, Israel’s Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that said that “the West has the ability to strike (Iran),” just days after the Wall Street Journal reported remarks by US defense officials according to which the Pentagon is not in possession of conventional arms strong enough to destroy all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. “Wolf, wolf” is Israel falsely crying, and not for the first time; surprisingly, international mainstream media accept these claims. Is this related to the ownership of this media?

The event in Beer Sheva today is very important, because this city is at the far end of the Grad missiles’ range (see map below). This means the missiles fly the roughly 40km distance in about a minute. Israel claimed repeatedly that Iron Dome was designed to protect Sderot. Missiles can reach this town reach from Gaza within fifteen seconds. Yet, Iron Dome failed at the far end of the range, where it had four times more time to prepare.


Rockets fired from Gaza | Range

Rockets fired from Gaza | Range


In the past, Rafael—the producer of Iron Dome—made public data regarding the characteristics of the system. Oddly enough, the technical data clearly contradicts the arrogant declarations of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. A Qassam missile speed in the air is 200 meters per second. The distance from the edge of Beit Hanun, in Gaza, to the outskirts of Sderot is 1800 meters. A rocket launched from Beit Hanun takes about nine seconds to hit Sderot. The preparations to launch the intercepting missile at their target take up to about 15 seconds (the system locates the target, determines the flight path and calculates the intercept route in that time). The Qassam will hit Sderot a number of seconds before the missile can intercept it even if launched.

On August 20, 2011, Iron Dome had its first operational failure. Seven rockets were fired almost simultaneously at Beer Sheva from Gaza; one of them managed to bypass the Iron Dome defense system, and exploded in a residential area, killing Yossi Shushan. Brigadier General Doron Gavish, back then commander of the IAF’s Air Defense Corps, said the following day that “we said in advance that this wasn’t a hermetic system,” adding that the air defense units were learning on the fly and improving the performance of Iron Dome while operating it. “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,” Gavish said. In other words, he tried to justify clumsily what had been predicted: “Even if the Iron Dome has a 100% success rate, it may turn out to be a hundred percent hits against 0.1% of the fired missiles or less.” What would happen the day all 50,000 missiles aimed at Israel are fired? An Iron Dome final price is between forty to one hundred thousand dollars per unit. A Qassam is prepared for less than one hundred dollars. Even if the Iron Dome has a 100% success rate, the price ratio interceptor/missile is high, thus it cannot provide a solution even if Lord Rothschild provides a comfy loan.

The events of yesterday and today involved single missiles shot at faraway targets. Everything was in favor of Iron Dome. Yet, it failed. The IDF had deployed Iron Dome only in sites far enough from Gaza to provide the system a good chance of success. In such a way it was manipulating the statistics in Iron Dome’s favor, for the sake of the Singaporean Army, which is an investor and client of Iron Dome. Even with these carefully manipulated statistics, the IDF declared that Iron Dome shows only 75% accuracy. Yet, yesterday it had a 100% failure under the best possible conditions. We are witnessing the failure of the Iron Dome deception; there is a limit to the reach of Israeli lies. In this case, the limit was determined by a single rocket landing in Beer Sheva.


Rockets fired from Gaza | Warning Time

Rockets fired from Gaza | Warning Time



Addendum: Katyusha


After my article Israeli Iron Dome Threatens North Korea one of my faithful readers contacted me asking if the missiles being fired from Gaza were Grads or Katyushas. I was surprised at the question since it is well known that Gaza fires Grads, while Hezbollah in Lebanon uses Katyushas. The transfer of the systems between the places is quite complicated, mainly due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Thus I wondered at the source of the odd question. As often happens when military terms are popularized, the source of the error was related to the fact that the Katyusha—the first Soviet weapon of its kind—was later developed into several variants.

“Katyusha” is a multiple rockets launcher of Soviet design. It appeared during World War II in three variants, the BM-13 launcher, the light BM-8, and the heavy BM-31. In the 1960s it was improved into the BM-21 Grad launch vehicle, a Soviet truck-mounted 122mm multiple rocket launcher and several other systems. For some reason, the Grad is sometimes nicknamed Katyusha and caused the abovementioned confusion.

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