Defense Ministry's Pinchas Buchris
Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri
Photo: Gadi Kabalo
'Rocket interception system to be tested next month'
(Video) Defense Ministry director-general tells heads of Gaza vicinity regional councils 'Iron Dome' system expected to intercept at least 92% of Qassams. In order to speed up system's development, Armament Development Authority receives halachic permission to work on Shabbat
VIDEO - Progress made in development of rocket interception system. Defense Ministry Director-General Pinchas Buchris told heads of Gaza vicinity local councils on Monday evening that the first tests in the 'Iron Dome' system will begin next month.


According to the Defense Ministry briefing, a launching test was conducted so far, and now the defense establishment plans to test other aspects of the system in a series of advanced experiments.




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According to the defense establishment, the system is expected to become operational by the beginning of 2010, but this date may be moved up according to its development. The government will invest NIS 811 million (about $242.8 million) in the system's development in the next five years.


In order to speed up the work on the innovative system, workers of the RAFAEL Armament Development Authority have received a halachic permission to work on Shabbat as well.


In a meeting attended by Defense Ministry and Home Front Command representatives, Buchris updated the local council heads on all the moves taken by the defense establishment against the rocket threat.


The community heads claimed in the past that the innovative rocket interception system will not protect them.


"The 'Iron Dome' system cannot create an answer to the missiles hitting our communities, which are at the range of less than four kilometers from (the Gaza Strip town of) Beit Hanoun," the head of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council said in a letter to the defense minister.


According to Buchris, when the system becomes operation, it will be able to deal in an optimal manner with the rocket fire, and in the worst case scenario, the system will intercept 92% of the launched rockets.


'What will we do till 2010?'

Ashkelon Mayor Roni Mahatzri who took part in the meeting, asked "what are we supposed to do until 2010?"


His deputy, Levi Shafran added, "When Scud missiles were fired at central Israel, the Patriot system was immediately erected to provide defense. Here the rocket fire has been going on for years and you are only examining and checking."


Alon Schuster, head of the Shaar Hanegev Regional Council, said however that the meeting was extremely important.


"We are leaving this meeting with a feeling that they are really taking good care of us in a professional matter," he said, despite his remarks that the residents have no way to defend himself from mortar shells which are not identified by the alert systems.


Defense Ministry officials refused to refer to the meeting, explaining that it was "a closed conversation."


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