Storm clouds, both literal and figurative, loomed overhead as the first two batteries of Israel’s latest missile defense system — the David’s Sling — went operational on Sunday.
At a ceremony at the Hatzor Air Base not far from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s top defense officials boasted of the capabilities afforded by the state-of-the-art batteries, as tensions with Hamas threaten to put them to a real-time test soon.
Terror group Hamas has reportedly now also acquired rockets with much larger warheads, and tensions have spiraled in recent weeks following the killing of a Hamas commander.
Hamas has accused Israel of the apparent assassination of its terror chief Mazen Faqha on March 25 and threatened revenge.
Israel has not acknowledged any role in the hit and early Syunday Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman insinuated the terrorist group was responsible for killing Faqha.
As the ceremony was taking place, Hamas rejected Liberman’s hints and said it came from a place of fear.
While Liberman also said Sunday that Israel has no plans for another “adventure” in Gaza, some analysts and officials have raised the possibility that a fourth round of violence between the Israel Defense Forces and Hamas approaches.
Just before the event, the head of the Israeli Air Force’s Aerial Defense Command, Brig. Gen. Tzvika Haimovitch warned that such a conflict with Hamas would “be more challenging” than previous ones in light of the highly explosive, short-range rockets reportedly acquired by the terrorist group.
The David’s Sling, which is designed for mid-range missiles, would not protect Israel against this new variety of projectile and even the IDF’s Iron Dome short-range interceptor system would also struggle against these rockets.
However, standing in front of one of the David’s Sling batteries, Haimovitch said his unit was better prepared than ever to face the rocket threat.
“The David’s Sling, along with the other systems, will give us another layer, another ability,” he said. “I believe that while the next campaign will be more challenging, we will see an air defense network that’s much better trained and much more fit.” (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Times of Israel website.