Home » Air » Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets from Gaza

Israel’s Iron Dome Intercepts Rockets from Gaza

by Brendan McGarry on July 8, 2014

The Israeli military has posted video reportedly showing its Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting rockets fired by Palestinian fighters in Gaza.

Mid-air explosions can been seen against the dark of night and wailing sirens can be heard on the minute-long clip posted on Tuesday by idfnadesk, the official YouTube page of the Israel Defense Forces.

“This is footage of the Iron Dome system intercepting a barrage of rockets fired from Gaza at the Israeli port city of Ashdod,” states a description accompanying the video.

Tensions between the two sides have escalated in recent days after a teenage Palestinian boy was killed following the abduction and killings last month of three Israelis teens.

Almost 100 rockets were fired from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday, according to the Associated Press. After a brief morning lull, the rocket fire resumed on Tuesday, with more than 15 rockets launched toward southern Israel, including the cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon, AP reported.

Five were intercepted by the Iron Dome system, according to the news wire. (Later reports put the number of intercepted rockets at 29.)

Meanwhile, the Israeli military launched an offensive, called “Operation Protective Edge,” striking at least 50 sites in Gaza and mobilizing troops for a possible ground invasion aimed at stopping the rocket barrage, AP reported.

The missile defense system is made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and funded largely by the U.S. It’s designed to defend cities from short-range rockets and artillery fired from distances of as far as 43.5 miles (70 kilometers).

The House of Representatives last month passed a defense authorization bill that would authorize $351 million for the Iron Dome program in fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1.

While that figure is almost double the amount the White House requested for the effort, the legislation would also require that American companies get some of the funding and for the technology to be shared with the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency.

The Senate hasn’t yet taken up the measure.

To date, the U.S. has spent almost three-quarters of a billion dollars on the Iron Dome system.

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

david July 8, 2014 at 2:38 pm

$150,000+ missile to destroy a $10 rocket or $5 mortar. I guess they don't care since the American taxpayer is footing the bill.


Bernard July 8, 2014 at 3:37 pm

The rockets are not $10. One of the key goals in the development of Iron Dome was that the missile costs have to be less than the cost of the weapons they are intercepting. Otherwise the enemy would win the war by attrition.


Curt July 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Iron Dome rockets cost more than the rockets they are intercepting but so what? First, they don't intercept every rocket, only the ones hitting something valuable. Second, they have a deterrent effect, because the enemy doesn't know how many rockets will get through, but they know they are in for a world of hurt either way.
Finally, it is not about how much they enemy missile costs but how valuable the asset you are guarding is. If you save millions by spending hundreds of thousands, you come out ahead.


Bernard July 9, 2014 at 1:01 pm

Good points, although the costs of the enemy weapon is still a factor. If they can send more missiles than you can afford to shoot down, then victory by attrition is inevitable. However, the inaccuracy of the weapon is also a factor in the cost of attacking a target.

The way I figure it, the key for the attacker is the cost spent to destroy a specific target. If they only have say a 20% (1 out of every 5) chance of hitting then they will need to send 5x as many missiles to guarantee a hit, meaning that each target will cost the attacker 5x the price of a missile. Let's say a missile costs 5000, so now the cost of hitting one target is now $25,000. If they add in Iron Dome, 90% (9 out of 10) of those missiles get shot down. Now to make the math easier, say the attacker plans to strike 10 targets at a cost of $250,000 (for 50 missiles, 5 per target), and each target is worth $500,000 to the defender. The defender must launch 10 intercepting missiles at a cost of $1.5 million ($150,000 per interceptor), but because 1 out of every 10 fails, the defender still loses a $500,000 asset at a total cost of $2 million. Now the attacker knows that if they spend $250k, they can cause $2 million in losses on the defender. If the defender can maintain 8x the funding of the attacker, then the defender will survive. However if they cannot, then all the attacker has to do is keep up the pressure until the defender runs out of money. Of course when the defender retaliates then they may be able to cause economic losses for the attacker as well.

So we end up with the following formula: (* is multiply, / is divide)

(defender missile cost + asset cost * (1 - defender missile accuracy)) / (attacker missile cost / attacker missile accuracy) = defense cost ratio

Or we can abbreviate that as:
(dmc + ac * (1 - dma)) / (amc / ama) = dcr

Which in my above example looks like:
($150,000 + $500,000 * (1 - 90%)) / ($5,000/20%) = 8

Step by step:

($150,000 + $500,000 * (1 - 90%)) / $25,000 = defense cost ratio
($150,000 + $500,000 * (0.1)) / $25,000 = defense cost ratio
($150,000 + $50,000) / $25,000 = defense cost ratio
$200,000 / $25,000 = defense cost ratio
8 = defense cost ratio

Of course the real numbers are likely very different from this and it doesn't factor in retaliatory attacks by the defender.

So while your statement "If you save millions by spending hundreds of thousands, you come out ahead" could be true. It assumes that you can afford your current rate of losses. If someday you can't pay those hundreds of thousands you will lose everything.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 1:44 am

As someone living in Israel, I am rather amazed at this discussion — especially the mathematical formulas used to calculate the value of saving lives. I'm in the center of the country (not near Gaza), and every day and night, I hear (and sometimes see) the dozens of explosions of Hamas rockets being intercepted by Iron Dome (in the south of the country, it's much more…). As Iron Dome only goes after rockets that the guidance system estimates will reach populated areas, that's dozens of potentially fatal rocket strikes in populated areas avoided every single day and night. I don't care if every Iron Dome rocket costs $1 million; as long as I know it's preventing my family from getting killed, IT IS WORTH IT. I wonder if you'd be applying these mathematical formulas if even ONE of these rockets were being fired at your home town in the US, Canada, Europe (wherever you live)…

Deuterium2H July 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Bernard, that is ridiculous. There is NO FRIGGIN' way that an Iron Dome Tamir interceptor missile is anywhere near as cheap as a Qassam or Grad rocket. In fact, each Tamir interceptor is at least an order of magnitude greater in cost than a Grad, and almost two orders of magnitude greater than a Qassam.

However, you are missing the entire point of Missile Defense, when you are relating it to a war of attrition. The Iron Dome system only engages incoming missiles that are calculated to hit populated areas and/or high value locations, installations, etc. Due to the stupendous inaccuracy of the Palestinian and Hamas missiles, that leaves a lot of targets which are determined to be non-threats, and fall below the criteria for engagement.

Second, as soon as the terrorists' missiles are fired, their launch position is determined. That makes any enemy missile crew who do not close up shop and run away, soon after they have fired off a rocket or two…a dead missile crew.

Furthermore, the relative VALUE of a missile defense system, and each interceptor is measured against the cost of casualties, lives lost, as well as damage to infrastructure and property. That is why, in the calculus of Ballistic Missile Defense, the cost of the ABM interceptor does not have to match the cost of the target it is engaging…nor do BMD systems presume to even try.

EDIT: Sorry Curt, I inadvertently reiterated points you made in your reply. In my rush to reply to Bernard, I didn't read your post. Just checked back and saw your earlier comments. So, I agree with you :)


Bernard July 9, 2014 at 11:46 am

Good points, I once saw an article about Iron Dome that explained the economics. I must have skimmed the details too quickly. I should have simply stated that the economics of operating Iron Dome was a critical factor in the design, to prevent vulnerability to a war of attrition.


mfiner71 July 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

The point isn't to destroy every rocket at all. It is correct to say that a Tamir rocket is more expensive than the rockets raining down. The way it is made relatively economical, is via the radar and programming behind everything. As I understand it, the system calculates the trajectory of the rocket. If it falls in a barren area where there will be no damage, no rocket is fired. Only if the trajectory is shown to hit something deemed valuable (and I don't know what they use to determine that basis). The cost savings is also in the prevention of physical damage and/or loss of life. I'm sure someone with an actuarial background could probably benefit assess the cost calculations involved.

Curt July 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

No problem, we used to call that repeating for possible penetration.


jd July 10, 2014 at 10:29 pm

@Amos, yeah. Course you don’t care what it costs seeing as you don’t foot the bill maybe if the Palestinians had any hope you wouldn’t oppress and steal thier land u wouldn’t need to milk America for every dollar?


tmb2 July 9, 2014 at 4:18 am

It's not the value of the interceptor, but rather the value of the target being saved. If I fired a $100k missile to protect several million dollars worth of property and dozens of lives it's worth the expense.


isaac Kallberg July 10, 2014 at 12:29 am

a $150,000+ to defend against a $10 rocket or $5. That could cause millions in damage or kill hundreds of innocent people what is a bigger waste of money you tell me?


ronaldo July 10, 2014 at 4:54 pm

It was not built on US money.



Blake July 8, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I'd say that those guys where pretty calm considering that they were stuck on a boat with rockets exploding over their heads.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 1:54 am

Trust me, you get used to it. Once you've witnessed a few interceptions (I've seen or heard several dozens already just in the past few days — one just above and loud enough to make the building I was in shake), you start getting more comfortable (for lack of a better term…) with it. Especially with the high success rate, knowing that the overwhelming majority of the rockets fired will be intercepted — gives you a sense of security (hopefully it will not turn into a false sense of security…).


Ben July 8, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Wait… So we pay to develop Iron Dome and we don't even have access to the tech ourselves yet?

We spend way too much money on Israel..


Joe_the_Nipper July 9, 2014 at 7:59 am

So go into politics and change things, Ben…


Ben July 9, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Too many politicians as it is. I prefer to promote and vote for the good ones.


Joe_the_Nipper July 10, 2014 at 4:10 am

Ah I get it. it's too much truble to actually do something compared to complaining from the sofa….


Stan July 9, 2014 at 7:34 pm

That's the nature of Israel, Ben. Parasites that live off American taxpayers and bite the hand that feeds them.


tiger July 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm

crawling from under rocks…. the hate lobby.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 3:23 am

The US didn't pay to develop Iron Dome. The initial funding and development of the Iron Dome system was entirely Israeli, and allowed for deployment of the first two Iron Dome systems. Funding for an additional 8 systems was provided by the US, and additional funding recently approved includes a provision which will allow for sharing of the technology with the US. There are many other countries worldwide interested in acquiring this technology, which has proven to be unique and extremely effective.


Randy July 8, 2014 at 3:47 pm

We don't spend enough money on Israel. Given sufficient support, they could really slow down terrorism in the middle east and probably world wide.


Ben July 8, 2014 at 4:01 pm

… All they need is enough to defend themselves. Anything more is either wasteful or will instigate even more extremists. You can't simply stamp out "terrorism" with a big stick. We've been trying and failing to do that for the past decade.


Kaleb July 8, 2014 at 5:48 pm

We could if we could get the stupid politicians out to the position of running the war.


Ben July 8, 2014 at 6:58 pm

That's a fantasy.

The only thing that MIGHT have worked would have been if we'd only sent in a lot of special operator teams to quietly but constantly be knocking out their leadership. That would have kept our intentions focused and clear to everyone: We're just going after the hardballers, not trying to occupy your home and change the way you live.


Thunder350 July 8, 2014 at 7:40 pm

It's impossible to stop people whom they, and the world, see attempting to rid themselves of oppression by oppressing them more. Killing leaders only makes them a Martyr and draws more people to their viewpoint. Plus most would agree with Emiliano Zapata, "I rather die on my feet than live upon my knees" History shows us that aggression on either side has never, and will never lead to any positive outcomes. The only way this conflict will end is with the creation of a united Palestine (already there), and recognition of both Israeli and Palestinian sovereignty by both sides, with a shared Jerusalem.

rtsy July 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm

The existence of Israel and US support for it is probably the biggest single reason for terrorism against us.


Clint July 8, 2014 at 9:33 pm

We spend so much on is real because they test American technology in war for us and we adopt what is most effective


XB-70 July 10, 2014 at 1:52 am

Thank you. Somebody that speaks sense for one. What you said is on the money.


Cataldo July 10, 2014 at 10:12 am

Yes, they can slow "terrorism" , maybe with a bunch of nukes.


Thunder350 July 8, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Benjamin Franklin said it best, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"

The Israeli people poll after poll no longer agree with oppressing the Palestinian people and overwhelming support a two state solution. The oppression for temporary safety has failed, and will continue to fail outside a genocide worse than that of WW2. The Israeli people no longer support their corrupt Benjamin Netanyahu but his popular party continues to keep him in power. The people need to force this change in order to seriously engage with the united Palestinians who are giving peace a chance and are willing to act to stop the aggression by 3rd parties. Israel needs to return to the negotiation table. History has proven further aggression by either side has never led to any positive outcome.

"Israel will never get true security and safety through oppressing another people. A true peace can ultimately be built only on justice. We condemn the violence of suicide bombers, and we condemn the corruption of young minds taught hatred; but we also condemn the violence of military incursions in the occupied lands, and the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured." -Desmond TuTu


hibeam July 8, 2014 at 6:29 pm

"You have to go along to get along" -Geronimo.


Stan July 8, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Sadly, that's not true. If it were Netanyahu, an animal as political as any on the Capitol Hill, would have done what he needed to stay in power which would be make peace.


Thunder350 July 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Just like the congressional majority, he has an agenda. An agenda hes ignoring the public's wishes on and willing to sacrifice his "career" for. Even if it's what's best for the country, all in order to obtain his goals and to appease those who want what he wants. And should he lose his job, they'll be sure to take very good care of him!


Curt July 9, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Well, since there has never been peace despite numerous attempts, history pretty clearly says that negotiations don't work either. Not that they shouldn't be tried, just that they have always failed to date. Of course they will always fail until they succeed, just the nature of the business.
But, why have they failed? Because whatever one people want doesn't make a difference. Both sides have to want a two state solution and have to reach a position they both can live with. Until that happens, neither side will reach an agreement. And you are being Pollyannaish if you think Israel is the only problem.


Thunder350 July 9, 2014 at 11:13 pm

The problem with the peace negotiations is there tends to always be one side that makes absurd demands of the other. One year its the Palestinians, the next it's the Israelis. Neither side seems to elect the party that wants peace at the sametime. The latest rounds ended prematurely once Israel pulled out of the talks after the Palestinians ended their years long political feud and united under a single government again, basically a prerequisite to a worthwhile peace agreement. (You can't agree to peace with only half of Palestine). Then there was Israel demanding to be recognized as a Jewish state, a requirement they haven't had any other country agree to in any of the other peace negotiations between their neighbors. Of course the Palestinians had some demands that weren't so reasonable either, but the majority of the blame on this latest fallout falls into Israel's lap this time.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 2:10 am

This is a very nearsighted analysis. You think it's reasonable to negotiate with a government whose official _declared goal_ it is to destroy you, who does not recognize your right to exist, and who is considered by all Western democracies as a terrorist organization? You're lucky you don't have to face this in the US, but if you did, would you agree to _negotiate_ with Al Qaeda? Never in a million years. It has nothing to do with negotiating with your enemy. As soon as the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist, we started negotiating with them — and if they had accepted what was offered to them (at GREAT expense to Israel and with significant opposition in the country) in 2000 — which was pretty much 95% of what they were asking for (and don't start with the "it wasn't perfect because…" — of course it wasn't perfect, that's the nature of a compromise — each side gets something, but neither side gets EVERYTHING they want!), that would have shown that they really wanted peace. All it did was prove that their real goal is, simply put, extermination of Israel and the "pesty Jews" that infest it. As for the request to be recognized as a Jewish state, it's not new — it's something Abbas had ALREADY AGREED to in previous negotiations. And why does everyone find this so absurd, when Abbas then comes and says that no Jews will be allowed to live in any future Palestinian state? Talk about double standards…


Joe_the_Nipper July 10, 2014 at 4:19 am

well put. nothing to add.

Mm July 8, 2014 at 9:58 pm

You can’t make peace with someone who wants you dead- the Palestinians want peace thru Israeli suicide


Kaged 2 July 9, 2014 at 2:33 am

The Palestinians got everything they wanted back when Arifat was in control of the P.L.O. And walked away from it just to show his defience to a state of Israel.


TonyC. July 9, 2014 at 8:18 am

The article is correct, no missile defense system can hit every projectile coming into the target area. The rocket barrages are designed to overwhelm the Iron Dome system. This is the same tactic that any enemy of the US will use to overwhelm the missile defense systems. The only effective defense is to eliminate the missiles at the launch sites before they can be fired.


ronaldo July 9, 2014 at 10:09 am

The genius of the Iron Dome system is that it is NOT designed to hit every rocket that comes it's way. The software judges which ones are the biggest threat to important Israeli sites and which are not.

These are simple rockets that it is intercepting and the the trajectories are simple to calculate. If the rocket is determined to be heading for an agricultural area it gets through. Thus it is not a one for one response.

Don't any of you guys read up on this stuff ?


hank July 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Reminds me of the Patriots during the GW1 "hitting" the Iraqi scuds. LOL!


ronaldo July 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Hank……there is no technical or tactical similarity.


Lakotah July 9, 2014 at 8:35 pm

What’s it matter what the cost is as long as it saves innocent lives. All the math in the world doesn’t add in the cost of an innocent child, brother, sister, mother or father. Hell you act like it’s your money their spending


Rob July 9, 2014 at 9:37 pm

Either make peace or fully declare war & fight until 1 side is completely eliminated. Same with Iraq. Stop leaving enemies behind to just make mess of things. Stop giving enemies the option to retreat & reform. All this tech, spying, allied support and money, but just seems to have been wasted & abused. Israel is one of our closest supporters. If they are attacking, we should be too. end of


tiger July 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Uh, Rob. Mass exterminatiton is not cool.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 3:04 am

Time magazine in 2012 cited an unnamed senior Israeli official saying the cost of an interceptor missile was “pocket change” compared to the cost of a rocket hitting Israeli neighborhoods. “If these rockets actually hit a neighborhood, in terms of the human costs, the wounded, the destruction of infrastructure would be much greater. So $100,000 is not that much to pay for a house that’s full of kids,” the official said.



f1b0nacc1 July 11, 2014 at 12:07 am

And that is the difference between Israel and the Palestinians. The Israelis spend billions to develop and deploy means to protect their children, the Palestinians use them as human shields for propaganda.

You are in our prayers


hibeam July 10, 2014 at 4:29 pm

We should send Joe "Empty Dome" Biden over there to negotiate.


tiger July 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm

I wish that on nobody. Not even the folks in Delaware.


hibeam July 10, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Every time an unguided missile is launched at Israel, launch 10 unguided rockets into Gaza. Ten for one. Every single time. At some point the local yocals will police the lunatics.


Ben July 8, 2014 at 7:58 pm

I was referring to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan more specifically. Very different situation. I agree with you about Palestine/Israel, though.


rtsy July 9, 2014 at 1:55 am

Thats the ideal Western solution to the conflict the US has been trying to sell for decades. The Israelis and Palestinians would much rather have a genocide.


Joe_the_Nipper July 9, 2014 at 8:08 am

thunder, this is a typical western view, and would work great in europe or america, but no in the middle east. to give in is interpret as a show of weakness and will only draw more violence in its wake as any number of martyrs will. just think of israels unilateral withdrawal gaza in 2005. the results were not, as hoped by israel, peace but rocket-terror and suicide bombers.


Gila July 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

Absolutely not! They dont want creation of Palestine - they want to destroy Israel as it is - first step. And the second step is to clean the world from all non-Muslims… And shared Jerusalem? How about to share Washington? They pray to Mecca, not Jerusalem. Jerusalem never mentioned in Koran, but then again… Ignorance is bliss and people are only see what they want to see or what close to their own home. Its time to wake up - see what Europe look like, US on the way there. Palestine arabs are the weapon Muslim world uses to conquer the world. wait and see.


Rob July 10, 2014 at 12:06 am

Not sure where you live but I've been to the Southwestern states.. Majority of population is Mexican and mostly due to 200 years of border crossing freely. Only in recent decades have we even begun to control it & it's too late. Only hope it to create jobs in Mexico so some go back & to find an end to the drug wars. That said, what you call just illegals are humans. We need to bond closer with Mexico not build a wall.


Kurt Montandon July 10, 2014 at 12:51 am

No surprise you get hard at the thought of incinerating desperate children.


Amos Ashani July 10, 2014 at 3:26 am

At the 2014 Singapore Air Show, Rafael unveiled its Iron Beam laser air-defense system. Iron Beam is a directed energy weapon made to complement the Iron Dome system by using a high-energy laser to destroy rockets, mortars, and other airborne threats.


Stan July 10, 2014 at 9:25 am

The USS Liberty might not count to you and typical Israelis but, it certainly does to the victims and their families. What would America's reaction be if any other state had committed that attack?


ronaldo July 10, 2014 at 12:46 pm

Stan……get over it.


tiger July 10, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Yep, right on time. Still bitchin about 1967…


hibeam July 10, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Lets bond closer to people with money. Build a wall to keep poor people out. We have enough poor people of our own.


Stan July 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

ronaldo proving the point for me. Israel lives off American taxpayers and then bites the hand that feeds them.

Thanks ronaldo.


Ron July 12, 2014 at 1:13 am

Well said! It is only because the IDF has the backbone to dismiss the so-called criticisms of outside voices and get on with their job that the nation survives. I saw an article today which stated that the effectiveness of Iron Dome was detrimental to the PR efforts of the IDF because there are no Israeli civilian casualties for the news media to report. This is the twisted logic of the world today…no matter…we soldier on…alone if we must to rid the world of the scourge of terrorism


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