JERUSALEM, Israel -- The successful test of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system earlier this year has prompted President Obama to approve the transfer of some $205 million for the purchase of more than 10 Iron Dome batteries recently.
The launch of this program, which will become a key part of Israel's anti-missile system this summer, brings Israel closer to defending its citizens against terrorist rocket attacks. The Dome is intended to defend the country against short and medium range rocket attacks.
Growing Security Threat
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists that the proliferation of missiles and rockets on Israel's borders is a great security challenge facing Israel.
"The fact is we are surrounded by an ever-growing arsenal of rockets placed in the Iranian enclaves, Iranian supported enclaves to the north and to the south," Netanyahu said.
The initial test was meant to show that the system could identify an incoming rocket, determine its target, and destroy it.
In the last five years Palestinian terrorists have launched more than 8,000 rockets and mortars at southern Israel.
In 2006, Hezbollah launched nearly 4,000 rockets across the border from Lebanon, virtually paralyzing northern Israel. Dozens of Israeli civilians were killed and thousands more wounded. Nearly a third of Israel's population was forced to live in shelters.
Yosi Druker, who heads the Iron Dome project at Rafael, said the test proved the Iron Dome's success even against a barrage of rockets.
"The Iron Dome can defend against all the kinds of rockets that were ever launched against the State of Israel and can destroy them as they are in the air," Druker said.
A Cost-Effective Defense
Developers said the system is affordable. One battery can defend an area the size of Haifa, Israel's third largest city.
According to Druker, while a Hamas Kassam rocket costs only few hundred dollars, each interceptor costs $100,000. Yet that is cheap, he said, when compared to the price of casualties, destruction, and war.
"We think the damage that a Katyusha can cause to the life of people, in wounded and dead and also in property is much higher than the price of the interceptor," Druker said.
He said the Iron Dome could also be deployed to defend U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"It can provide very good defense for American and British allied forces spread out all over the world," he said.
While the Dome can protect Israeli civilians on one level, strategically Druker said he hopes Israel's enemies will understand that launching rockets will not get them anywhere.
"We hope to come to a situation in which our enemies will understand that the firing of rockets against the State of Israel is not effective and they'll stop," Druker said.
If that happens, Druker said, Israel's foes will have to choose another way -- and maybe it will be peace.