- Israel has been bombarded with some 1,600 rockets in an escalating conflict.
- The country’s Iron Dome interceptor system blocked the vast majority, Israel said.
- One report said the system had been upgraded to deal with more intense barrages.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted about 90% of the barrage of rockets fired by Hamas in recent hostilities, according to multiple sources.
The Israeli military says 1,600 rockets have been fired by Hamas, the biggest test for the Iron Dome, which works by firing its own projectiles to destroy the incoming rockets before they land.
The system can track only so many rockets at once. Despite the intensity of the latest barrage, the system appears to have held up.
The Associated Press reported that 400 rockets fell short and landed in Gaza, leaving Israel 1,200 to intercept.
According to The Economist, the Israeli armed forces claim an interception rate for the Iron Dome of up to 95%. The AP reported that 90% were successfully intercepted in the most recent strikes.
Videos posted Tuesday by the Israel Defense Forces and onlookers give a picture of the airborne battle between rockets and interceptor missiles. Each flash of light represents a successful intercept:
-Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) May 11, 2021
-Avi Mayer (@AviMayer) May 11, 2021
“What you’re seeing in the sky is the algorithm,” an unnamed engineer who worked on developing the system, told The Economist. “We’ve been constantly improving the algorithm so it can face a barrage like this.”
The Iron Dome algorithm has adapted to counter Hamas attempts to overwhelm the system with huge numbers of rockets, experts told The Economist.
But it doesn’t come cheap: Every interceptor costs around $40,000, per The Economist, which is many times the cost of the basic Hamas munitions they intercept.
“When they’re firing at a big city like Tel Aviv, there’s no question: You intercept every incoming rocket,” Isaac Ben-Israel, a former major-general and weapons specialist, told the outlet.
Hamas “failed because this is specifically what the system was designed to do: Deal with multiple targets, and it’s constantly been improved so it can deal with more.”
But some rockets still got through. As of early Thursday morning, the Israeli death toll reached seven, the AP reported. Among those struck by rockets was a 6-year-old child, according to the outlet.
Gaza, an occupied territory, is far less capable of defending against attacks from Israel. According to the AP, Israel has sent around 600 airstrikes into Gaza since Hamas began firing rockets.
These operations included the leveling of two high-rise buildings that Israeli authorities say housed Hamas leaders.
As of Thursday, the Gazan Health Ministry reported 69 people dead from the attacks, including 16 children and six women, the AP reported.
The conflict has escalated in response to numerous renewed tensions, as Insider’s Joshua Zitser has reported.
These include the planned eviction of Palestinian residents from their homes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Jewish Israelis; and heavy-handed Israeli policing around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in which police fired rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades toward worshippers.