Militants in the Gaza Strip or in Lebanon have periodically fired rockets aiming Israeli towns. Between 2005 and 2013, militants in Gaza launched 8,977 rockets towards the South of Israel, while Lebanese militants fired thousands more. In 2012, Israel reported 596 rockets launchings from Gaza during the first 10 months of the year.
To counter such attacks, Israel has been developing several interception systems. The Iron Dome developed by Rafael Defense Systems is today the world’s most deployed missile defense system.
The main challenge in developing the Iron Dome was to “design a rocket system that can identify a rocket launch, classify its type, calculate its trajectory, decide the level of the threat it poses, launch an interceptor missile at it, keep the interceptor locked onto the incoming rocket, and blow it out of the sky—and all within a minimum of 15 seconds and a maximum time of 40 seconds, depending on the distance from the launch source”.
In November 2012, as part of the Operation Pillar of Defense, the IDF targeted several sites with air strikes on Gaza during an eight-day operation. These strikes aimed for rocket launch sites and related infrastructure. In response, Gaza militants fired over 1,506 rockets at Israel during the same period (including 316 on the day of November 15th alone). While most rockets were targeted at towns near Gaza, longer ranged rockets were also launched at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This figure includes 152 rockets which were misfired, and 875 which landed in open areas without causing any loss, according to the IDF. Four batteries of the Iron Dome were placed across the South of Israel, and another battery was located near its capital, intercepting 421 rockets, according to the IDF reports. Consequently, amongst the 1,506 rockets launched from Gaza, only 58 had hit urban area, causing the death of five Israelis and injuring 240 others. Over 3,000 insurance claims were filed with respect to the material damage caused by the rockets hitting urban area. Such damage was estimated to 190,000 USD per hit, equaling to 11 million USD in total. This was the first large battle of the Iron Dome. Rafael Defense Systems published videos of the Iron Dome intercepting rockets, generating large attention from the public.