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Israel successfully tests sea-based Iron Dome missile defence system

Israel’s military yesterday announced that a new sea-based version of the Iron Dome missile defence system had been successfully tested, intercepting a number of test rockets fired from shore.

The Iron Dome is part of Israel’s overall umbrella of missile defence, including the Arrow and David’s Sling systems which protect against mid and long-range missiles. The Iron Dome was deployed with enormous success against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

However, the new sea-based system is designed to protect Israel’s off-shore natural gas platforms from rocket attack. The test, which apparently took place within the last few weeks, saw the Iron Dome intercept three rockets fired from 40 kilometres away at an altitude which ensured that shrapnel did not damage the gas platforms.

Col. Ariel Shir, the Israel Navy’s head of combat systems development said: “It’s important to understand that the operational capability tested improves our ability to protect Israeli strategic assets at sea… It’s a mission-oriented capability we can use now.”

The ship-based Iron Dome is an interim solution to protect gas platforms prior to the arrival of the German-built Sa’ar 6 missile boats in 2019. Another, unnamed naval officer said that these boats would also provide protection against cruise missiles, such as the Russian Yakhont missile which is thought to be in possession of forces in Lebanon and Syria.

In a separate security development yesterday, Israel Police yesterday intercepted 60,000 hand grenade springs on their way to the Gaza Strip. Police arrested a man from the southern Bedouin town of Rahat as he loaded the cargo onto a truck from a warehouse in the Gaza border community of Ami Oz. The man is suspected of illegally procuring the springs, which he intended to transfer to terror groups in Gaza. Israeli authorities have intercepted illicit materials used for armaments and military infrastructure heading for Gaza on numerous occasions since Operation Protective Edge.