In the face of war and unprecedented number of launches, which include rockets, drones and UAV's from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, Israel has initiated its largest ever air defense deployment. The IDF's air defense fighters have carried out thousands of successful interceptions at all levels of defense, from Mount Dov in the north to the Red Sea in the south and at the same time the army is preparing for extreme scenarios that include war on additional fronts.
In this campaign, all of the IDF's air defense systems operate simultaneously - Iron Dome, David's Slingshot, Diamond and Arrow. The various systems provide air defense on the home front at different levels. The IDF Spokesperson said that during the first four hours of the war, Hamas launched some 3,000 rockets at Israel. In comparison, during the 34 days of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Hezbollah launched 4,400 rockets, and in all 51 days of Operation "Protective Edge" in 2014, approximately 4,500 rockets were launched.
The IDF estimates that the opening blow by Hamas was the largest rocket attack on Israel's Home Front in the country's history. "Young 20-year-old lieutenants took upon themselves decisions on that Saturday that are under the authority of majors and lieutenant colonels, our men drove at 190 km/h from home without being summoned to prevent more serious damage to the Home Front," the Air Force said in a statement. The unit lost three fighters in the surprise attack, on their way to arm an air defense launcher that had been emptied, and an officer living in the south was seriously injured, and only regained consciousness in recent days.
Despite the massive barrages, the IDF Spokesperson said that with the entry of the ground forces into Gaza and the beginning of the ground offensive, the number of rocket launches dropped significantly. The successes of the air defense systems were made possible through cooperation between the IDF and the defense industries, as well as between the IDF and the U.S military, which serves as a force multiplier in the war. The record speed of manufacturing interceptors allowed arming the Iron Dome facilities throughout the country, while maintaining the necessary inventory in case Hezbollah joins the fray.
Due to the unusual learning curve led by Iran in favor of Hamas and Hezbollah, the IDF maintains relative ambiguity on the subject of interceptions, with an emphasis on the exact rate, although they are high when considering the number of barrages. So far, more than 2,000 rockets have been intercepted, in addition to dozens of UAV's and drones. Also, out of the total number of launches from Gaza towards Israel, approximately 12% of rockets launched landed in Gaza, and approximately 900 rockets were launched from civilian sites such as mosques, schools, hospitals and cultural centers. These figures once again highlight Hamas's cynical use of civilians as human shields.
Over the past month, Hamas has reduced the number of launches to a few hundred per day on average, mainly due to the necessities of war. The relatively small number of casualties from the launches in the opening blow on that horrible Saturday is due to the swift reaction of the Iron Dome fighters who were on normal holiday alert. Within a few hours, all the conscripted and reserve soldiers and officers of the unit jumped into action. Since then, new units have been deployed to reinforce the air defense efforts.
On Tuesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant referred to the continued rocket fire from Gaza, and said that the ground operation inside the strip "suppresses a significant part of the threat on the home front". Gallant, met with the director generals of government ministries that dealt with the situation on the home front, and said: "Hamas' launches these days is mainly intended to disturb the routine of life. We need to make sure that the citizens are given security and the ability to lead a continuous routine."
In the meantime, the IDF continues to intensify its activity inside Gaza City. Infantry, armor and engineering forces of the 162nd Division, with the assistance of the Air Force and special forces, raided the security zone of Hamas in the heart of Gaza - near Shifa Hospital. So far, more than 50 terrorists have been eliminated in the district during intense fighting which is yet to be concluded.
According to the IDF Spokesman, the area of the security zone is the "core of the intelligence and operational activity of the terrorist organization Hamas and was used to plan and prepare its forces for the murderous attack it carried out on October 7." Currently, infantry, armor and engineering forces of the Givati Brigade are working to neutralize the many terrorist infrastructures and threats in the area, including a robust underground system, while engaging in continuous fighting. In addition, intelligence documents were found and a number of significant tunnel shafts, factories for the production of weapons and anti-tank launchers were destroyed during the IDF's ground incursion.