VIDEO - The Defense Ministry on Sunday published a video of the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip.
The images, which were captured by a camera that was attached to the battery, show in slow motion the moment in which the interceptor Tamir missile hits the rocket and destroys it midair.
On Sunday evening, a Qassam rocket exploded within the Ahskelon Regional Council after several hours of calm. The Color Red rocket alert system was activated at around 9:30 pm, and the Qassam is believed to have hit an open area. There were no reports of injuries or damage.
"We were subjected to criticism for a long time, but we knew that we were heading in the right direction, and that there were no other real alternatives,"
head of the Military Research and Development Unit Brigadier-General Eitan Eshel told Ynet following the successful debut of the Iron Dome, which intercepted eight Grad missiles and a Qassam rocket fired at Beersheba and Ashkelon over the weekend.
"Actually, the operational success serves as proof or an answer to those who doubted it, because beforehand it was difficult to answer to critics and reveal data, but now things are very clear," he added.
Watch Iron Dome intercept a rocket
According to Brigadier-General Eshel, the success rate of the two Iron Dome batteries activated over the weekend came close to 100%.
"Everything functioned properly – from the detection to the interception. We weren't surprised by any scenario, and were prepared for everything.
"However," he added, "it is still important to stress that the system is not hermetic, and the public should still follow safety instructions during emergencies."
The Defense Ministry and IAF aerial defense apparatus have begun analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from the initial performance of the system.
Up until now, the Iron Dome system was not activated automatically, and required the partial involvement of battery operators. "We already have plans to improve the system and the operating software, so that it can give a lot more than what we've seen so far," said Brig.-Gen. Eshel.
In order to collect data, special teams were sent on the field to locate rocket remnants. "We are definitely tracking the rocket fragments. Fortunately, we haven’t found significant fragments, which means there's not much left after the interception, which is a positive point," he said.
While the defense establishment is requesting a budget to purchase more batteries, the funds may end up coming from abroad: "We've already received feedback from different countries," Brig.-Gen. Eshel noted.
"The success was also observed outside of Israel. We need to remember that this is a one-of-a-kind system worldwide, and so it is safe to assume that its success will draw interest around the globe and attract buyers."
Netanyahu was briefed on the anti-missile system by one of the soldiers operating it, and said that "this is a great achievement, thanks to its operators."
The prime minister stressed that "we can't defend every house, facility and site in this country," adding that the cabinet instructed the IDF to work to stop the rocket fire and restore calm.
He added, "I hope this will be Hamas' intention as well. If this will be Hamas' intention, calm will be restored. If it reinforces its attacks, our response against Hamas will be much tougher."
Some 20 Qassam rockets and mortar shells exploded within Israel on Sunday, a dramatic drop compared to the weekend fire. There were no reports of injuries or damage in all incidents.
A senior state official said Israel had not given a positive response to the European ceasefire initiatives. He stressed, however, that Hamas was in control of the escalation and that a ceasefire would take place if the organization wanted it. The prime minister instructed his ministers not to comment on the situation in Gaza publicly.
Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report
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