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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Iron Beam Intercepts Mortar Shells ‘Like Flies’

There at least two ways to stop mortar shells. Kill the terrorists or kill the mortars. Guess which one Israel chooses?
Israelis taking cover in Nitzan under a barrage of mortar shells.

Israelis taking cover in Nitzan under a barrage of mortar shells.
Photo Credit: Flash 90

Israel’s new Iron Beam anti-mortar shell system achieved a high interception rate in tests that showed it “shoots down flying objects like flies,” according to the CEO of Rafael Advanced Systems, which developed the technology.

Yedidia Yaari told Israel Defense, “This is a system for a shorter range than Iron Dome,” which has been deployed around urban centers and has a high success rate of interception short and medium-range missiles.

The Iron Beam uses a laser that “is designed to intercept simpler munitions, such as mortars,” Yaari explained.

He added, “The system has undergone feasibility tests, and we’re now in the development stage. We’re after the demo, but there is another development phase ahead of us. There are technology models that prove that it has a very high interception rate.”

The system will give a bit of peace of mind to residents of the Gaza Belt communities, pounded by thousands of mortar shells for well over a decade.

Leaders of the communities have been hollering for years for the government to give the IDF the green light to invade Gaza and regain control that was lost by a soft policy against terrorism in the Oslo War, also known as the Second Intifada, which began in 2000.

The Defense Ministry for years consistently carried out a policy of restraint, preferring not to retaliate harshly for fear of sparking an escalation by Hamas terrorists, who always want the last word, or in this case, the last missile.

The only changes in the policy were when Tel Aviv was threatened, in November 2008, prior to the Operation Cast Lead counter-terrorist campaign, and a year and a half ago, when the IDF countered with the Pillar of Cloud campaign.

With these exceptions, southern Israel’s residents have been subject to enemy missile fire and mortar shelling attacks at any time day and night and have paid a heavy price. Dozens have been killed, hundreds have been wounded and thousands still suffer from post-trauma stress.

In the past year, the Defense Ministry has become more defensive and has retaliated almost after every mortar shell or Kassam rocket attack.

The response usually is symbolic, with Air Force planes and drones bombing weapons factories and smuggling tunnels that already are known to exist.

The Iron Beam system will offer more protection and will make it more difficult for Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza to ruin the lives of people in the Western Negev.

The IDF knows that Hamas eventually will try to use their longer-range missiles to attack Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Terrorists do not stockpile missiles. They use them to prove to themselves that normal civilization has no value in the eyes of their Allah.

Sometime in the future, when Israel has enough confidence to decisively wipe out the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza if it does rot away first, historians might write that Israel was strong by not touching off another war with the usual outcome of international condemnation of the country’s carrying out the right to defend itself.

They also should write that the bravery of Israel in the Negev who did not flee, and many of whom were killed, allowed the IDF to wait so many years before developing the Iron Beam.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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