An 'Iron Dome' battery, a short-range missile defense system, is seen March 9 in the southern Israeli city of Eilat. (Jack Guez / Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Two Gaza-launched rockets evaded Israel’s Iron Dome defenses in a stormy evening that rained at least 60 rockets on Israel, five of which hit populated areas.
Iron Dome batteries deployed in areas surrounding Gaza scored three intercepts March 12 in salvo attacks unseen since its Nov. 2012 Pillar of Defense standoff strike campaign,
Israel put direct blame on Islamic Jihad, yet Defense Minister Moshe “Bogey” Ya’alon said Hamas, as governing authority over Gaza, would have to account for attacks from its territory.
By midnight March 12, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced retaliatory airstrikes on 29 sites north and south of the strip. Defense sources here suggested more action to come, given Hamas’ inability to honor 2012 ceasefire commitments.
In a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a “noisy” response to continued launches from Gaza.
The Israeli-developed Iron Dome is supported with multi-year US funding distinct from $3.1 billion in annual US security assistance.
The two governments concluded a March 5 agreement that released $429 million in previously-authorized funds frozen until the two sides had finalized terms and conditions for US Iron Dome production.
The president’s 2015 budget requests $31.7 million for Iron Dome, which Israel’s Ministry of Defense is looking to expand by $137.9 million through congressional plus-ups.