Iron Dome has always had a flaw.
In previous rounds of combat, it shot down 85 percent to 90 percent of Hamas missiles – and that was all the ones that were supposed to land in urban areas.
As long as Hamas could only fire a small number of rockets in a single salvo, this was almost a hermetic shield.
But Israeli intelligence and national security officials had long warned that Hezbollah had a sufficient number of rockets to pound the Jewish state with over 1,000 rockets in a day, an amount that could pierce the Iron Dome shield.
This was one reason the IDF has been so careful when it came to Hezbollah.
The terror group has 150,000 or more rockets, including hundreds of advanced ones, which means that 1,000 per day wouldn’t even dent its arsenal.
Has Hamas now found its own way to undermine Iron Dome?
During the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas fired almost 4,000 rockets, but that was spread out over 50 days. It usually fired dozens of rockets in a day at most, and spread them out over the day. Its high was around 200 rockets spread over a whole day – and out of the 50 days of the war, it fired more than 100 rockets per day for only around two weeks.
Also, the vast majority of these rockets were fired at the Gaza corridor since Hamas had a limited number of rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv and other areas.
But on Tuesday and Wednesday morning, Hamas appeared to succeed in firing more than 100 rockets within minutes, including a sizable number focused on Tel Aviv.
This is a jump both in the number of rockets being used against Tel Aviv, and in the terrorist group’s ability to fire a high volume of rockets simultaneously.
This is an ability that Hezbollah was known to have, but was thought to be some time away still for Hamas.
DOES THIS mean the Iron Dome is no longer effective? No.
It also intercepts the vast majority of missiles launched at Israeli population centres, but some get through. The bigger question is whether Israeli intelligence reports that Hamas has just a few hundred missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv are right.
If those figures are right, Hamas could have used up a substantial portion of its arsenal, even if it still has thousands of missiles capable of hitting Beersheba, Ashdod, and communities along the Gaza border.
However, if Hamas has more of those longer-range missiles, it may have an effect on Israel’s plans for this round of conflict, especially how long it needs it to last.
If Hamas can pierce the missile shield with 100 rockets in a few minutes twice in one day, how much more damage can Hezbollah and Iran do with the longer, larger and more accurate missiles it possesses?
Israeli decision-makers and military strategists will need to take this into account in deciding how long this can go on for and how quickly they will need to either escalate with a ground offensive to reduce Hamas rocket fire (clearly the IDF’s extensive bombing on Tuesday did not succeed in that sufficiently) or to find its way to a ceasefire more quickly and make new plans for the next round.
The IDF will also need to rethink the speed with which it will need to move in a conflict with Hezbollah, let alone Iran.