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Israel's Iron Dome Destroyed a Rocket Headed to the Resort Town of Eilat

It was good timing, as the Israeli military moved the Iron Dome battery into place outside Eilat just last month

by Derek Mead
Aug 13 2013, 3:45pm

Early Tuesday morning, Israel's latest Iron Dome missile defense installation, located outside the resort city of Eilat, destroyed a rocket fired out of the Sinai Peninsula. According to the Israeli military, it was the first time the system had been successfully used to protect Eilat, which resides on the Red Sea.

As the New York Times notes, it was good timing, as the Israeli military moved the Iron Dome battery into place outside Eilat just last month, in response to heightened tensions on the Egypt-Israel border.

The Israeli military said the rocket was intercepted without trouble just after midnight. The local report above says that it was a Grad rocket, which is an old Soviet design that's been copied all over the world, and which has become popular with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in recent years.

The Associated Press says a little known militant group called Ansar Jerusalem emailed to take credit, while the Times says a group called Majlis Shura Al-Majahedin Fi Aknaf Bayt Al-Maqdis claimed it was the one to fire the rockets from the Sinai. The former also claimed responsibility for a 2011 rocket attack near Eliat that killed 8. Egypt hasn't confirmed that a rocket was launched from the Sinai, but is reportedly investigating.

The Iron Dome system is pretty impressive technology, both for its ability to track down and destroy ballistics, and its portability. The AFP video below is a great explainer, and yet it's still hard to emphasize just how difficult it is for a computer tracking system to calculate the path of an incoming rocket, decide if it's actually going to hit anything (firing a response isn't cheap, after all), and then launch a counter. Of course, for vistors to Eilat—which is at the peak of its tourist season—all that matters is that it works.

@derektmead