The successful tests of the rocket interception system Iron Dome
along with the decision to make the system operational within the first half of 2010 were not received with particular enthusiasm among residents of Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities.
"I don't think that putting this system in place will help me sleep at night," said to Ynet Pinhas Amar, a Sderot resident whose house was almost entirely destroyed in a rocket attack.
"This isn't what will provide security for us here. I think the solution is not in installing one system or another. This is not what will stop the rocket firing at Sderot. In my case, I didn't just lose my house, but much larger damage was incurred that no system will bring back. There is no doubt that the solution needs to be different," he said.
Outgoing Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Buchris telephoned the area's leaders to notify them that development of the "Iron Dome" system had concluded and that it would soon be made operational. The region is still trying to study the decision and understand where the system will be installed and in which areas.
The Ashkelon Beach Regional Council head Yair Farjoun sounded a bit skeptical after receiving the news.
"They notified us that they plan on installing the system. But this is still a system that will provide a partial solution to the region. It is unclear which areas it will cover. It must be remembered that the next round in our conflict with the Palestinians won't be the same as the last round. In my opinion, it will reach Tel Aviv and its environs. Therefore, an inclusive, system-wide solution is needed, both military and political. Installing the system will provide only a partial solution to this conflict," Farjoun explained.
Shaar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Schuster all along has looked into the possibility of installing a different system – the Nautilus, which uses laser technology. He recently asked Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, who chairs a sub-committee within the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to examine the Nautilus system. However, according to Schuster, as soon as the decision was made to install the "Iron Dome," he supports it.
"The Defense Ministry was determined to develop this system, and they stuck to the time table," said Schuster. "However, it certainly is not a complete solution because, in the first stage, it will only provide a response in urban concentrations and strategic facilities. Therefore, smaller towns will not receive coverage under the new system at this stage. However, this solution is still a solution joining fortification and the alert systems."
"I thought that, at the very least, we needed to examine the laser system," explained Schuster. "But the defense establishment was not prepared to test it. There is always a lot of noise around the decision making process, I don't think the defense establishment needs to live around this. The moment the decision was made, we need to support it."
Acting Ashkelon Mayor Shlomo Cohen expressed his satisfaction with the decision to activate the system, but emphasized that the recent developments do not exempt the defense establishment from placing additional fortifications in the education system in Ashkelon.
"This is a relatively low cost relative to this system," said Cohen. "There isn't even a scale for comparison. Also, we still don't know what kind of solution this system will provide in the case of rocket barrages, or if the system will be activated selectively, etc. We still don't have these figures."