The attack caused Israel's Iron Dome to fall

Hamas launched thousands of rockets in just 20 minutes, causing the Iron Dome system to be overloaded and unable to protect Israeli territory.

Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Herzog announced on October 9 that Hamas forces over the weekend launched more than 4,000 rockets and deployed hundreds of gunmen into Israeli territory in a large-scale surprise attack campaign.

Some of Hamas's rockets bypassed the Iron Dome system and crashed into targets in many urban areas, including Tel Aviv, causing civilian casualties and infrastructure damage.

This is not the first time the Iron Dome has fallen to a Hamas rocket attack, although it was developed to specifically counter rocket artillery and mortar shells fired from the Gaza Strip aimed at Israel.

The Iron Dome system has been deployed since 2011 and is a central component of Israel's multi-layered defense network. It has the most important mission in Israel's defense network when confronting non-state militia groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which are known for launching unguided projectiles with short ranges and low speeds.

Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip and the Iron Dome system opened fire on the night of October 8. Video: Reuters

A complete Iron Dome complex includes 3-4 launchers, each equipped with 20 Tamir interceptor missiles, along with surveillance and guidance radar, control and combat management systems. Much of Iron Dome's operations are automated to shorten response times and reduce operational manpower requirements.

The Tamir interceptor missile is highly maneuverable, equipped with an active radar detector and two-way data transmission to receive additional target information after leaving the launch pad, increasing accuracy when intercepting. The proximity detonator on the projectile will activate the directional fragmentation warhead when near the target, destroying the rocket without hitting the target.

The Israeli Ministry of Defense said Iron Dome has successfully intercepted 85% of targets since its deployment in 2011, but also admitted that it is not capable of intercepting all rockets launched from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has for years sought to exploit the Iron Dome's weaknesses. This force announced in 2019 that it was capable of neutralizing Iron Dome by using the tactic of launching a large number of rockets at a single target. General Yaakov Amidror, former head of the Israeli Military Intelligence Research Department, then admitted that the shield had failed against the "rain of rockets" by only defeating 240 out of a total of 690 projectiles.

Israel in 2021 upgraded its system to deal with new threats, including suicide drones (UAVs) and large numbers of rockets.

However, this measure was not enough to stop the massive attack tactic applied by Hamas on October 7, when thousands of shells were launched into Israel in just 20 minutes, compared to about 4,500 shells fired throughout the day. two weeks of conflict in May 2021.

In addition to the threat from Hamas's overloading tactics, Iron Dome systems also face limited logistical capacity when having to withstand large-scale raids in a short period of time. It is unclear how many Iron Dome batteries Israel deploys, but the country has revealed plans to staff a total of 15 complete systems.

A full Iron Dome battery only has about 60-80 combat-ready Tamir shells, making the total number of Israeli interceptor shells no more than 1,200. The batteries were spread out so they could support each other, but this also made it impossible for them to jointly deal with an overwhelming attack from a fixed direction.

The Israeli military often uses two Tamir shells per target to increase the rate of successful interception. This tactic is suitable for dealing with sporadic raids with a small number of rockets, but cannot be applied to attacks with a number of targets that far exceed interceptor bullets.

The Iron Dome system fired to block Hamas rockets targeting the city of Ashkelon on October 8. Photo: Reuters

The cost gap, especially as large-scale attacks continue, could cause missile supplies to rapidly dwindle. Israel does not disclose the exact cost of each shell, but previous information showed that Tamir missiles cost 40,000-100,000 USD/shell. This price is much lower than that of modern air defense missiles, but still places a significant burden on operating costs.

CNN quoted an anonymous source saying that White House officials met on the evening of October 8 with leaders of the US House of Representatives to discuss measures to increase support for Israel. Tamir missile ammunition for the Iron Dome system is one of the weapons transferred by Washington, after Tel Aviv made a request.

Sources say Israel's stockpile of Tamir ammunition is still secure in the short term, but the country will likely need more supplies from the US if the fighting continues.

Iron Dome also encountered difficulties when the rockets of the Hamas militia were increasingly improved, with increasing speed, range and accuracy.

"This system has effectively intercepted large raids in the past. The failure on October 7 shows that Hamas may be deploying new weapons that are more difficult to intercept such as Rajum rocket artillery and drop-dropping UAVs." explosive materials on targets in Israel ," commented an anonymous former US official.

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