Israel tests missile defence system to fend off Hizbollah


Amid the great publicity over the nuclear talks, Israel carried out a successful test of its David Sling missile defence system. Hours before the test, IDF top brass had warned of Hizbollah's ability to fire up to 1,500 missiles a day at Israel.

In the event that Iran signs a final deal in June 2015 but is later caught cheating in a blatant attempt to obtain a nuclear weapon, there will be the possibility of an Israeli or US attack. In this scenario, Tehran could use its proxy, Hizbollah, to launch a barrage of rockets at Israel. David's Sling is designed to defend Israel from short and medium-range missiles - the kind of projectiles that Hizbollah possesses in abundance. The system will complement Iron Dome, which has operated with great success against Hamas, and the Arrow system, which is designed to counter the ballistic missile threat from Iran. There are indications that David's Sling could be operational in 2016.

However, there is no certainty that David's Sling and Arrow will be as effective as Iron Dome. In the Gaza war of 2014, many of Iron Dome's interceptors were not used because it detected that a large proportion of the incoming rockets would not reach population centres. If Israel is faced with over 1,000 missiles or rockets a day, David's Sling and Arrow would have to use a larger number of interceptors, which could compromise either system.

No military expert would claim that missile defence systems can provide hermetic protection, but they do give decision-makers greater freedom. They mean that political leaders are not compelled to resort automatically to pre-emption and retaliation. Furthermore, the positive response of the Israeli public to Iron Dome in 2012 and 2014 attests to the positive impact that successful missile defence has had on national morale, and its contribution to strengthening public resolve in war.

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