Israel has intercepted 9,500 rockets fired thanks to its multi-layered air defense system

Seth Frantzman is reporting from Israel

Israel’s air defenses are at the forefront of the country’s ability to keep the increasing rocket and missile threats from Hamas and other Iranian-backed groups from causing extensive damage across the country. How extensive? Israel revealed for the first time on Thursday that it has intercepted approximately 9,500 rockets and dozens of aircraft that have been launched since the beginning of the war.

Around one-third of the rocket fire was came in the first four hours of the war, which began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and killed 1,400 people in Israel. The huge volume of fire on the first day of the war was unprecedented in terms of the rocket threat Israel previously faced. For instance, the IDF noted that during the 50-day 2014 war against Hamas and the 2006 war against Hezbollah, the total number of rockets fired was around 4,000. This means Hamas’ capabilities reached far beyond what Hezbollah was capable of in 2006 – and also shows how Hamas has expanded its abilities since 2014.  

Israel uses three main, multi-layered air defense systems to intercept rockets and missiles. This includes the Iron Dome system, David’s Sling, and Arrow. Arrow and David’s Sling were jointly developed with the U.S. David’s Sling is similar in size and range to the U.S. Patriot. Arrow is for intercepting long-range threats and has been used twice against missiles fired from Yemen and once against a long-range Hamas rocket aimed at Eilat. Israel’s air defenses have intercepted 2,000 rockets fired from Gaza, the IDF said. Usually, the system does not intercept rockets heading toward an open area. In addition, Israel estimated approximately around 1,000 of the rockets fired from Gaza have landed in Gaza as a result of misfires.  

The IDF says this has resulted in the most extensive deployment of the air defense systems. The report also pointed out that the array includes Patriot batteries. “The array’s successes were realized, among other things, as a result of the deep cooperation effort between the IDF and the defense industries, as well as between the IDF and the United States Armed Forces, which are force multipliers in this war,” the IDF said. 

The focus on air defense provides a glimpse into the multi-front war Israel is confronting, including daily attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon as well as the emerging threat of the Houthis in Yemen. Air raid alarms sounded in Eilat in southern Israel on Thursday evening. The Arrow system intercepted a missile threat over the Red Sea. In addition, a drone slammed into a school in Eilat. No sirens sounded in that incident, and Israel is investigating the details behind the drone incident. The concern about the increasing threats led to the cancellation of classes in the city. More than 60,000 Israelis who evacuated border communities near Gaza and the north had been relocated to Eilat hotels.  

In addition, on Thursday, the IDF sent forces into Jenin. Palestinian Islamic Jihad increased its threats from Jenin over the last year. Israel carried out a multi-day operation in the summer in Jenin. However, the large number of illegal weapons in the city in the hands of terrorists and gunmen meant the threat continued. Two M-4 rifles were confiscated in the raid on Thursday.   The IDF said it used a drone to strike armed terrorists. In the past, the IDF has used the Hermes 450 ‘Zik’ and the new FireFly loitering munition in operations.

In Gaza, the IDF provided some new details on the operations of the 162nd Division, which is one of at least three divisions operating in Gaza. Givati brigade members of the division eliminated 50 terrorists. Units also “raided the military quarter of the Hamas terrorist organization in the heart of Gaza City, near the Shifa Hospital,” the IDF said. A Hamas stronghold was targeted which included Hamas air defenses, training facilities, and outposts. The IDF said it found Hamas factories that were used for the production of drones and anti-tank missiles. The drone factory was located in a residential building. “All the terrorist infrastructures mentioned above are in close proximity to civilian facilities such as schools, kindergartens, medical clinics, and mosques. This is further proof of the terrorist organization’s use of the residents of the Gaza Strip as a human shield for its murderous terrorist activities,” the IDF said.  

A new video was released of hostages held by Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Both hostages are from Kibbutz Nir Oz and one is a child. In all, 240 hostages have been held in Gaza since Oct. 7. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited IDF Southern Command on Thursday for a situational assessment. There will now be pauses in the fighting during the day to enable people to leave Gaza City – and Israel stood firm in saying it roundly rejects a ceasefire.  

New footage emerged on Thursday of the humanitarian corridor along Salah al-Din street. It showed large numbers of people moving south and ambulances going north, apparently to transport people from a hospital. IDF soldiers, who did not appear to interact with the civilians and remained at a distance, called out in Hebrew to see if any hostages might be in the group moving south, held against their will.  

The Israeli Ministry of Defense also said that Israel continued to receive military equipment from abroad. A total of 123 cargo planes and seven ships with over 7,000 tons of armaments and military equipment have arrived in Israel since Oct. 7. Meanwhile, more casualties were announced by Israel as well, the total number of soldiers killed over the last month stands at 354.

Reporting from Israel, Seth J. Frantzman is an adjunct fellow at FDD and a contributor to FDD’s Long War Journal. He is the acting news editor and senior Middle East correspondent and analyst at The Jerusalem Post. 

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