Missile Attack on Ashkelon Fails:
The IDF said the Iron Dome’s interception of Grad Missiles made ‘world history,” but Hamas continues to attack with short-range Kassam rockets.
Gaza terrorists broke a subdued offensive against Israel and fired a missile towards Ashkelon Sunday morning. It failed to reach its target, but it is not yet clear if the Iron Dome system intercepted it or if the rocket exploded in an open area.
Initial but unconfirmed reports from Voice of Israel government radio were that terrorists fired a medium-range Grad missile. Simultaneously, a Hamas spokesman said, "We have no interest in an escalation in attacks.”
The newly-deployed but expensive Iron Dome system, operating in Be’er Sheva and Ashkelon, intercepted six Grad missiles Friday night. It was the first in-the-field successful interception.
Air Force Commander Major-General Ido Nechushtan said that although the deployment of the Iron Dome is only in its first stage, the IDF has "already made world history" by exploding several Grad missiles in mid-air.
Lt. Col. Shabi Ben-Boher, commander of the Iron Dome unit, said, "Though we knew we would be deploying the system earlier than expected, in these past few days it was decided to use it operationally. We are in a trial period and as such will act slowly and with great consideration to ensure that the first interceptions will be successful."
The Iron Dome’s capacity is limited to foiling rocket attacks only in the areas where it is deployed. Its high cost has limited its use to defending major population centers, while thousands of Israelis in Gaza Belt communities have to rely on the Code Red incoming alert siren, which sounds 15-20 seconds before a shorter-range Kassam rocket strikes.