Brig.-Gen. Zvi Haimovitch, the IDF air defense commander, Monday maintained that there was “no malfunction or human error” in the performance of the Iron Dome short-range missile defense system Sunday. The battery fired multiple missiles, he said, after identifying a projectile launched against Israel.
“There was system oversensitivity, and we had five seconds to decide. We don’t take chances in situations with even the slightest potential of harming either civilians or property,” said Haimovich.
“The system recognized rocket fire that may threaten the Zikim area,” he explained. “We do our best not to take chances at (non-war) times, and the number of rockets is therefore not representative of the number of threats or the number of risks.”
“We want to maximize defense, and that carries a price. The cost is outside of military and operational considerations when it comes time to make a decision. Not only was there no human or technical error last night, but the forces acted with the utmost professionalism and will learn from the event,” he said.
The senior IAF official then went on to refute Arab claims that intercepting rockets fell within the Gaza Strip’s territory. “A launch on a trajectory towards Israel was recognized. It acted ballistically for all intents and purposes. I did not care at the time whether it was a mortar, rocket or heavy machine gun,” he said.
The air defense chief elucidated that his forces “operate in a highly complex environment that includes mortars, rockets, missiles, machineguns and heavy machine guns—some of which are regulation and some that aren’t.”
“Yesterday’s incident had a five-second reaction time in which we needed to decide, and that takes courage, clarity and professionalism because the range was five kilometers. There was the potential of civilians being harmed, but none weren’t. We’ll continue minimizing risks even at the price of paying high costs,” he vowed.
The heavy machine gun fire, the officer noted, was picked up by the Iron Dome’s radars as ballistic rocket launches. “I’ll intercept threats during (non-war) times that I won’t during emergency situations, and if need be I’ll send double interceptors at threats,” Haimovich clarified. “Rockets exist today that are fired like artillery mortars. Our enemies are in an arms race.”
“I don’t fear a situation in which I’ll be left without intercepting missiles,” Haimovich stated. “No system is without its limitations or weaknesses. There’s not a lot of time for deliberation in situations like this. Weighing risk against chance, I’d rather go with chance.”