- Israel’s Iron Dome repelled thousands of rockets and even drones during recent fighting.
- The air-defense system also accidentally shot down an Israeli military drone.
- The Israel Defense Forces told Israeli media the friendly-fire incident is under investigation.
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Israel’s Iron Dome accidentally shot down an Israeli military drone during recent fighting with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces told local media.
“As part of the round of fighting in Gaza and as part of the defense of the country’s skies, an IDF Skylark drone was hit by Iron Dome,” an IDF spokesperson told Haaretz, adding that the incident is under investigation.
Skylark drones are small unmanned aerial vehicles built by Elbit Systems, an Israel-based international defense firm, and used by the IDF Artillery Corps’ “Sky Rider” unit for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.
Haaretz reported that the IDF is “worried” about the friendly-fire incident because it calls into question whether the IDF is able “to conduct a long period of fighting without harming its own forces.” It is unclear to what extent this is a concern.
During a recent 11-day conflict involving an intense exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian militants in Gaza, Israel’s Iron Dome faced thousands of rockets, as well as enemy drones, the latter being a first for the system.
Israel’s Iron Dome is a short-range air-defense system designed to intercept rockets, artillery, and mortars. The system has been in use since 2011 and is in place to reduce casualties from rocket attacks against Israeli cities.
The system was designed and developed by the Israeli defense companies Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries with US support. It is a part of a larger tiered defense system that includes other critical assets like the Arrow and Patriot batteries.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced in March the completion of upgrades to Iron Dome that would allow it to defend against a much more varied collection of aerial threats that Israel might battle in future conflicts.
During the upgrade process, the defense system was tested against a variety of threats that include rockets, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles, the Associated Press previously reported. Iron Dome had not yet engaged a drone in combat though.
The recent fighting began on May 10 as Hamas began launching Qassem rockets at Israeli cities after a period of heightened tensions and local clashes. During the conflict, the IDF repeatedly praised Iron Dome for its effectiveness.
The system is said to have intercepted 90% of incoming rockets, significantly reducing Israeli losses. Thirteen people, including two children, died in Israel from rockets that made it through. Palestinian deaths, as Israel retaliated with airstrikes, were much higher.
The Times of Israel, which also reported the accidental downing of an Israeli drone, said that the Israeli military conducted around 1,500 airstrikes in Gaza during the conflict. According to the Health Ministry in Gaza, at least 243 Palestinians were killed, including several dozen children, with roughly 2,000 wounded. The deceased included both combatants and civilians.
The horrific conflict, some of the worst fighting in years, concluded last Friday with a ceasefire agreement.