A fresh spate of fighting between the Gaza-strip-based Hamas and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) that broke out last week saw a strong show of defense by Israeli missile defense systems – the Iron Dome and the David’s Sling.
Of the several interceptions, few images and videos were shared on social media and expectedly went viral.
Although it wasn’t immediately clear which Israeli air defense system fired that specific interceptor, the image soon became a symbol of Israel’s defense against the incoming barrage of rockets.
As soon as the images captured by popular photojournalist Gilad Kfir went viral on social media, some military watchers attributed it to Iron Dome air defense system.
The images that could be seen below initially show the interceptor missile with its engine blazing and on a collision path with the incoming rocket.
The incredible moment when an Iron Dome interceptor destroys a rocket launched from Gaza into Israel.
Photos: Gilad Kfir. pic.twitter.com/LkP8jnFHRi
— Hananya Naftali (@HananyaNaftali) May 12, 2023
The Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad based in the Gaza Strip, were said to be using the Badr-3 unguided rocket to attack Israel.
Although IDF did not officially confirm it, the weapon was identified as a Badr-3 by military experts. It can carry a payload of over 250 kilograms and deal a deadly blow to any target.
Moreover, the Badr-3 is capable of causing widespread destruction. It is believed to have been designed by Iran specifically for militant proxy groups, including the Palestine-based armed militias that allegedly produce the missile locally.
Reports of Badr-3’s being used by Palestine-based groups first surfaced in 2019.
The missile unit of the Al-Quds Brigades fired a Badr-3 missile barrage at the city of Ashkelon, setting fires in several areas in Ashkelon. pic.twitter.com/TJ89sU0DMy
— Al Qud's ?? ?? ?? (@ZBlueZme) May 12, 2023
The air defense system that fired the interceptor to shoot the Badr-3 missile down has been a bone of contention.
Rafael, the David’s Sling medium-range system manufacturer used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), recently announced the first operational interception using this weapon, reportedly also against a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.
The David’s Sling missile employs the hit-to-kill principle and relies on the interceptor slamming into the target to kill it. In contrast, a Tamir missile fired from an Iron Dome interceptor usually uses a proximity fuze, which allows its kinetic warhead to explode close to the target.
Officially Combat Proven
In the last 24 hours the IDF carried out its first operational interception using RAFAEL's "David's Sling" system over the skies of central Israel against a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip. pic.twitter.com/SBQOXdT1L6
— Rafael Advanced Defense Systems (@RAFAELdefense) May 11, 2023
Only a few hours before the pictures of the rocket interception became viral on social media, the Israeli defense firm Rafael tweeted that David’s Sling system has been “Officially Combat Proven.”
This would hint at the use of David’s Sling probably in combo with Iron Dome. However, there is no official confirmation.
The scintillating images became an essential piece of marketing campaign by the Israeli defense forces.
In the first of several strikes meant to eliminate some of the militant group’s top leaders, Israel killed three senior members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad on May 9, sparking the latest outbreak of violence, which was a retaliation to the killings.
The last week’s missile strikes and retaliatory attacks that went on for five days finally ended in a ceasefire brokered by Egypt over the weekend. While a few more missiles and bombs were observed flying past the deadline, an uneasy calm settled in later.
Although the IDF has used both Iron Dome and David’s Sling in the recent wave of attacks, there are reports that the Iron Dome malfunctioned more than once last week, leading to an unsuccessful interception and loss of life in Israel.
What’s Wrong With The Iron Dome?
According to the Israel Defense Forces, one Israeli was killed, and numerous others were injured after an Iron Dome interceptor missile suffered a “technical fault” and missed a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip and landed in Rehovot.
Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a military spokesperson, said the problem, allegedly the second to affect the system in less than a week, was probably localized and that the missile defense system could shoot down 91% of the missiles it was intended to thwart.
“There was a technical fault; the interceptor was launched and did not hit the rocket,” Hagari told reporters on May 12. He noted that the malfunction would be investigated further.
Watch: Footage of Israeli IRON DOME Air Defense System intercepting barrage of rockets over Israel.#Israel #Gaza #IronDome #airdefense #military #palestine #rocket #GazaStrip pic.twitter.com/Ms56hFScmP
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) May 13, 2023
The deadly rocket, he claimed, was identical to the many previous shoddy-made projectiles fired from Gaza throughout the recent uptick in hostilities, but it struck the apartment block at “a complex angle,” causing extensive damage.
Before this particular incident, the Iron Dome had a different problem that prevented it from operating during a previous flare-up with Islamic Jihad earlier this month. A number of rockets landed in populated areas due to the malfunction, one of which struck a building site in the city of Sderot and injured three foreigners.
The malfunctioning of the Iron Dome was received with jubilation among Israel’s adversaries, including Iran, accused of supplying ammunition to these Palestine-based militant groups.
An article published by pro-Iranian regime media on April 15 said Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets presented a threat to Israel’s air defenses in the recent round of conflict.
The article also argued that Israel’s actions show “helplessness” as Iron Dome “failed.” As a result, Israel turned to David’s Sling, an air defense system for threats from medium-range missiles.
According to the Iranian media, Israel’s Iron Dome has had “failures.” Israel has thus chosen to use a “new air defense system,” and “the Israeli army used the Dawood’s [David’s Sling] slingshot system for the first time in 2018 to intercept two Toshka short-range missiles that were launched from Syria, although these missiles had fallen before reaching the said system, so the Zionist regime has not been involved in any war so far.”
However, the Iranian article was dismissed by Israel-based The Jerusalem Post as an Iran obsession and fascination with Israeli air defense systems.