As rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza continue — and further attacks from Israel's north loom — the value of the Jewish state's missile defense system grows. Writing at Moment Magazine, Dan Raviv gives us a detailed and fascinating look at the development of the Iron Dome that keeps the people of Israel safe:
Chanoch Levin had just returned to Israel when the rockets started falling.
It was 2006, and the weapons engineer and his wife, Ditza, had moved back to their small town in the northern part of the country after two years in Maryland, where Levin had been consulting with the United States Army on ways to neutralize the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were killing U.S. troops in Iraq. In mid-July, two months into his homecoming, Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon began shooting hundreds of rockets into the north of Israel each day. In five weeks, Hezbollah fired almost 4,000 rockets, about a quarter of which hit populated areas.
The storm of rockets was terrifying. Many residents ran to underground shelters when warning sirens blared, but still, more than 40 people were killed with many more seriously wounded. A quarter of a million citizens—almost three percent of the nation’s population—fled northern Is-rael, sleeping in hurriedly improvised hostels or moving in with friends and family elsewhere in the country. The economic cost to Israel was at least $1 billion.
The Levins and their adult children, Tamar and Yoav, stayed put, taking shelter in a lower-level computer room in their house night after night, listening to the rocket blasts and emerging hours later to discover the damage to their little town. So when Levin was approached by his employer—the government-owned weapons development company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems—to spearhead a project to combat these missiles, he immediately recognized its importance.
He recalls being told, “You might not be the brightest engineer we have at Rafael, but we noticed you always think outside the box, and with this project, that’s the only chance we have of making this work...”