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The Evolution Of Iron Dome: Now Capable Of Intercepting Mortars

While mortar shells are considered rudimentary compared to rockets and missiles, they nevertheless proved to be the more deadly weapon in the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas. In fact, whereas little physical harm was inflicted on the Israeli populace by more advanced projectiles during the conflict—as most of them were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system—mortars, which remain airborne for only 10-15 seconds, killed several Israeli soldiers stationed along the Gaza Strip border as well as a four-year-old child from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Since then, Israel has worked to upgrade the system through technological improvements and by streamlining the manner in which Iron Dome is operated. The IDF reportedly also devised new deployment patterns for the system’s batteries to increase their probability of intercepting short-range projectiles. On Tuesday, the effort appears to have paid dividends, with Iron Dome intercepting an estimated two dozen mortars, according to preliminary findings. The exploit was hailed by many in the defense establishment, given that the system has just moments to identify an incoming projectile, determine its threat level based on its trajectory and, if headed towards a populated area, launch an interceptor missile to shoot it down. Despite the achievement, some army leaders nevertheless warned that Iron Dome, like all other systems, is not perfect; this, evidenced by the fact that in the latest round of fighting a mortar shell landed outside of an Israeli kindergarten just before children were due to arrive.

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