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Iron Dome proves vulnerable to false alarm: A new factor in coming IDF-Hamas contest

That Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system was deceived into firing interceptors against non-targets has given Hamas an unexpected leg up in its coming showdown with the IDF.  On Monday, March 26, high-ranking Israeli officials and military brass made an effort to dismiss this incident which occurred the night before as a mere “technical malfunction’ that would soon be repaired. The multiple explosions caused by active Iron Dome interceptions of thin air sent more than a million civilians living in Sderot and Ashkelon scrambling for shelters. One local reporter claimed excitedly that he had witnessed “the heaviest rocket barrage” since the Gaza war four years ago.

The former OC southern command, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, led the chorus of reassurance: “So what if there was a technical fault? We’ll get it fixed. Iron Dome has brought huge benefits.” The panic began to subside late Sunday night when the Israeli military spokesman announced that the rocket alert and anti-missile fire were triggered by heavy machine gun fire occurring as part of an ongoing Hamas drill in the Gaza Strip. The incident would be investigated, he said, moving on to announce that the IDF had raided another two Hamas lookout points in the enclave.

But this was not the only notable incident in the run-up to the major operation, the “March of Millions,” which Hamas has scheduled for the six weeks beginning on Passover Eve, March 30, and ending on May 15 when Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary.

1. Four Hamas operatives cut through Israel’s border fence outside the Gaza Strip in and walked through in broad
daylight, without the benefit of a tunnel. They then flaunted their ability to commit an act of sabotage like a regular commando unit.

2. The first large-scale military drill Hamas had ever launched was accompanied by an announcement: “We are now an army” – a claim of respectability by a notorious terrorist group to which Israel has made no response.
3. Israel’s prized Iron Dome missile defense system exposed vulnerability to a false alarm. This most likely happened by chance, rather than Hamas trickery, but it gave Iran and its Lebanese pawn, Hizballah, key information they had sought for four years.

Uzi Rabin, father of Israel’s missile and missile defense programs, published an article a week ago under the caption, ”The strategic significance of civil defense against rocket attack.” His most telling conclusion after detailed analysis is this: “In asymmetrical wars, warfare is weighted most heavily against the population of the antagonist, not its army. One of the most important lessons of the [2014] Gaza war was that effective defense of the home front counterbalances this asymmetry and gives the two parties a measure of parity.”

Using Rabin’s yardstick, DEBKAfile finds that the events centering on the Gaza Strip on Sunday tilted the balance of parity between the IDF and Hamas in favor of the latter. If Iron Dome can be tricked into firing at non-existent rockets, it can also be fooled into missing real rockets. This was a failure of the system’s software. Although the IDF’s electronic whiz kids will repair this fault, it might take some time. The civilian population meanwhile remains exposed. While the Iron Dome, a unique short-range anti-missile system, was a critical element in Israel’s success against Hamas’s rocket war, some experts have accused the IDF of exaggerating its capabilities. The way it fell victim to the false alarm of heavy machine gun fire may strengthen this argument and call for another round of enemy rockets to determine whether the newfound fault is fixed.
It must be said that the manifestation of Iron Dome’s imperfection has imbued the coming contest between the IDF and Hamas with an unexpected new dimension. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman decided not to rely on the inadequate IDF spokesman’s communiques to lift morale among the troops and the general public after these setbacks. Instead, he weighed in Monday to confirm that the Trump administration had allocated $705m in funding aid for the continued production of Israel’s three-tier missile defense system. This was the largest amount the US had ever granted for Israel’s missile defense program, and a vote of confidence inter alia for Iron Dome.

 

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27 thoughts on “Iron Dome proves vulnerable to false alarm: A new factor in coming IDF-Hamas contest

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 13:01 at 13:01
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    Not wise to over-hype the Iron Dome system but not wise to over-hype its flaws, either.

    Yes, it appears there is a flaw. It also seems likely there will be a fix for the flaw. So if Hamas and Hizballah rely on the presence of a flaw and try to exploit it, they may be making a mistake.

    To truly evaluate the implications of the incident and the perceived flaw in the system we’d need a whole lot better information on the technical aspects of the flaw. That would also tell us much about the likelihood of a robust fix.

    One other thing? The apparent flaw was found when there was not an ongoing pitched battle. That’s usually when a commander wants to find any problems with his/her systems. Finding out during the battle is the worst time to learn of the flaw(s).

    To sum up? It appears there is a flaw in the Iron Dome system. We don’t know what the fix is or how difficult or how time-consuming the fix will be. Fortunately the flaw was found prior to a major escalation of hostilities.

    • Mar 26, 2018 @ 15:38 at 15:38
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      your reply makes a lot of common sense unlike that of mark following yours.

    • Mar 26, 2018 @ 15:54 at 15:54
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      So there is a flaw why you say it is a mistake to exploit it? They should exploit it to the full in fact , no a mistake.

      Most Western sustens are actually inferior to the Russian’s

      • Mar 27, 2018 @ 11:03 at 11:03
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        “Most Western sustens are actually inferior to the Russian’s”

        @Nut,

        What are “sustens” ????
        Did you mistype and mean to say “cisterns” ?
        Are you saying Western water cisterns are inferior to Russian water cisterns?

    • Mar 27, 2018 @ 8:45 at 8:45
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      As an engineer, I would say it’s fortunate to have discovered this by mistake. The cure will surely lead to a more advanced system and more.

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 14:22 at 14:22
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    It seems like this missile systems computer decides on its own when to fire…
    personally i like Russian short and long range versions more.

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 14:23 at 14:23
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    Debka doesn’t like Mondays

    • Mar 26, 2018 @ 22:14 at 22:14
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      #metoo

    • Mar 27, 2018 @ 11:07 at 11:07
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      “Debka doesn’t like Mondays”

      @Dude,

      But Mondays are the Second Work day of the week!

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 15:30 at 15:30
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    Will someone in Israel please let the Islamist terrorists know that if they dare sacrifice their own women and children in a “March of Millions” attack on the border that Israel will treat this as an invasion that will be dealt with accordingly?

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 15:49 at 15:49
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    the answer is iron beam.

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 16:06 at 16:06
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    The two-legged Hamas rats will not hesitate to sacrifice their entire “electorate” (the most miserable of all Islamic dumb sheep) – as long as they fantasize-pretend more “victories” over Jews !
    Especially now, that they have an “army” of human rodents and hyenas…
    Hopefully the IDF will treat them as such – this, final time !

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 16:52 at 16:52
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    PLEASE NOTE THAT AFTER THE 2006 LEBANON WAR, THERE WERE SEVERAL INCIDENCES RECORDED FROM HEZBOLLAH IN LEBANON THAT THEY WERE LAUNCHING MISSILES WHEN IN FACT THEY WERE NOT. IT APPEARS THAT HEZBOLLAH HAS A SIGNAL SYSTEM THAT CAN TRICK RADARS INTO THINKING THAT MISSILES WERE LAUNCHED WHEN IN FACT NONE WERE LAUNCHED. THIS APPEARS TO BE A SUBTLE TESTING OF THIS BY HAMAS THAT NOW HAS THIS FROM HEZBOLLAH. WHAT THIS DOES IS THAT IT CAN TRICK THE IRON DOME INTO FIRING UNNECESSARY INTERCEPTS.

    • Mar 27, 2018 @ 11:11 at 11:11
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      @Abe,

      Maybe a good sophisticated jamming system is in order!

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 17:32 at 17:32
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    “In early 2010, some UNIFIL battalions were picking up rocket launch signals on their ground radars. The radars showed the source of fire in Lebanon, tracked the trajectory and marked the impact point in Israel.
    Only there were no rocket launches. UNIFIL investigators initially pondered whether Hezbollah had found a way to trick radars by transmitting false launch signals to disguise its real rocket launches.” On page 445 in the book Warriors of God: Inside Hezbollah’s Thirty-Year Struggle Against Israel by Nicholas Blanford.

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 20:53 at 20:53
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    So the radar is to just to good if it see machinegunfire.Must be easy to fix the programm.

  • Mar 26, 2018 @ 21:35 at 21:35
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    The Iron Dome and other systems have a major flaw that can be corrected in one easy step.

    Start massive, non-stop bombing of all Hamas targets, fill all known tunnels with natural gas and ignite them. Stop being defensive and start driving Hamas into the sea.

    • Mar 27, 2018 @ 0:12 at 0:12
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      Yes, completely eradicate those that would eradicate us if they had the same weaponry that we have. Thus, we have to use what we have before someone else gets their hands on the same things.

      • Mar 27, 2018 @ 5:55 at 5:55
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        You sound like Hitler.

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 0:33 at 0:33
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    The problem with iron dome is radar:
    1st bullets are seen by radar as fast moving objects. If there is a group of
    bullets shot from a bunch of heavy machine guns they could look like a rocket for a radar. As they might not use different wave lengthts (e.g. in the dimension of about 1/4 inch to detect a single bullet and a 5 inch wave length to see only bigger objects like rockets) and compare the pictures.
    Also radar waves should be coded (xor) with a cypher stream so it will be impossible to transmit fake radar pictures as the faker does not have the code sequence of the cypher used.
    If both is not used, radar is error prone.

    Also one should have visual contact to see if there is a rocket before shooting a counter measure. This can be done with high quality video cam that uses an ultra violet filter as this will show the flame of a rocket which is a strong indicator for a present rocket attack.

    Thin

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 1:02 at 1:02
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    Who is the genius that decided to make this ‘opinion’ public? And why would Debka even print it?

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 2:53 at 2:53
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    Bury some of the “palestinians” in pig blood and watch how fast they leave Israel. If it was up to me I would meet with the IDF and work out a strategic plan to evacuate them all. Simply turn off the water and electric, use loud noises similar to those used by ships at sea, and assist them with moving trucks and money. The Hamas and other terrorists left behind can then be swept up quickly without having to go door to door. Those with actual deeds to property can be reimbursed at a later time. We are not thieves, merely peace loving human beings who are not going to let these thugs kill or injure innocent men, women, and children.

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 6:27 at 6:27
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    The key is to knock out the goons before they launch the rockets.

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 9:16 at 9:16
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    It’s a shame at this age, 21st century, to have another, a well established democratic country and very industrious educated people of Israel to be occupying by force and colonizing another fellow human beings called Palestinians. VERY SHAMEFUL.

    • Mar 27, 2018 @ 11:29 at 11:29
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      “It’s a shame at this age, 21st century, to have another, a well established democratic country and very industrious educated people of Israel to be occupying by force and colonizing another fellow human beings called Palestinians. VERY SHAMEFUL.

      @Darkish,

      What’s really a shame is to have someone with absolutely no knowledge of the history of Israel refer to the rightful owners of that land as “occupiers” and “colonizers” while being totally unaware of the origins of the so-called “Palestinians”. I bet you didn’t know that their former leader, Yasser Arafat, was actually born in Egypt, not Jerusalem!

      • Mar 27, 2018 @ 16:59 at 16:59
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        @davefromorange

        Your father was born in Nazi Germany so why don’t you claim that land!!? I bet you’re not Jewish, very shallow minded fellow.

  • Mar 27, 2018 @ 10:54 at 10:54
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    “personally i like Russian short and long range versions more.”

    @mark,

    One would gather from that comment that you’ve had personal experiences with those Russian systems. Would you be so kind as to share your valuable info with American and Israeli intelligence and military officials?
    Thanks in advance, Mark!

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