Hezbollah is fire-testing Israel's Iron Dome 'to learn its weaknesses'

Hezbollah is fire-testing Israel's Iron Dome 'to learn its weaknesses'
Hezbollah aims to bypass the Israeli Air Force's detection systems and increase the number of missiles hitting targets and circumventing the Iron Dome.
3 min read
07 March, 2024
The Iron Dome became operational in 2011 and had its first successful combat test in the same year [Getty]

Israeli intelligence sources report that Lebanese militant group Hezbollah is conducting live fire tests on Israel's much vaunted Iron Dome missile defence system. These tests aim to locate Iron Dome batteries and saturate the system with missiles to overwhelm its defences and identify its weaknesses.

According to an Israeli Channel 12 report quoting these sources, Hezbollah is launching frequent barrages of low-cost missiles, as seen by a recent attack involving 30 missiles.

The Iron Dome reportedly intercepted 12, with the remainder falling in unpopulated areas, according to Israeli claims.

Hezbollah aims to bypass the Israeli Air Force's detection systems and increase the number of missiles hitting targets and circumventing the Iron Dome.

They achieve this by targeting Iron Dome locations and launching more missiles simultaneously.

Similar tactics are employed with drones. Hezbollah has launched unmanned aerial vehicles from various locations and altitudes, probing for weaknesses in Israel's defences.

To counter these efforts, the Israeli military is reportedly deploying helicopters and fighter jets equipped with countermeasure radars, focusing on areas challenging for other interception systems.

The Iron Dome system has evolved significantly, demonstrating improved capabilities against large barrages and complex terrain. Israeli military analysts say intercepting missiles and drones in the north, with its varied terrain, is more intricate compared to the flat southern region near the Gaza Strip.

Since October 7, fighting between Hezbollah and Israel has killed close to 300 people in Lebanon, most of them Hezbollah fighters and around 50 civilians, including three journalists. Hezbollah says it has launched a 'support front' in the south in solidarity with Gaza, aiming to reduce Israeli capabilities available for the war on the besieged enclave.

Israeli says 10 of its soldiers and six civilians have been killed, but Hezbollah says the number is higher.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border, and many south Lebanese villages have been reduced to rubble from Israeli airstrikes.

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What is the Iron Dome system?

The development of the Iron Dome missile defence system by Israel began in the early 2000s, to counter the threat of short-range rocket attacks from neighbouring territories with the increased use of rockets by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The project gained momentum after the 2006 Lebanon War, during which Hezbollah launched thousands of rockets into northern Israel. Israel accelerated the development of a missile defence system that could effectively intercept and neutralize short-range rockets. The Iron Dome was developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with significant funding and support from the Israeli government and assistance from the United States.

The Iron Dome became operational in 2011 and had its first successful combat test in the same year. Its effectiveness remains the subject of debate, with some arguing its success rate is inflated for propaganda purposes.