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Israel’s Iron Dome and Yom Kippur war


The Hamas militant group launched its worst attack inside the Jewish state’s territory since 1948, killing at least 250 Israelis and abducting several others. The surprise attack has brought back memories of the Yom Kippur war. Journalists have shared an undated video on X of the Iron Dome, Israel’s air defence system, intercepting rockets coming in from Gaza.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. The Iron Dome: Israel’s Missile Defense System
  2. The Yom Kippur War: A Historic Conflict
  3. Significance of the Yom Kippur War

The Iron Dome: Israel’s Missile Defense System

  • The Iron Dome is a short-range, ground-to-air air defense system used by Israel.
  • It comprises radar and Tamir interceptor missiles designed to track and neutralize incoming rockets or missiles targeting Israeli areas.
  • It serves the purpose of countering rockets, artillery, mortars (C-RAM), as well as aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles.
  • The development of the Iron Dome can be traced back to the 2006 Israeli-Lebanon war when Hezbollah fired thousands of rockets into Israel.
  • In response, Israel announced the creation of a new air defense system to protect its cities and citizens.
  • Success Rate:
  • The Iron Dome was deployed in 2011, with Rafael Advanced Systems claiming a success rate of over 90% and more than 2,000 interceptions.
  • However, experts generally agree that the system has an overall success rate of over 80%.
How it Works:
  • The Iron Dome operates through three primary systems working in coordination to shield the deployed area from threats:
    • Detection and Tracking Radar: This radar identifies incoming threats.
    • Battle Management and Weapon Control System (BMC): The BMC acts as an intermediary between the radar and the interceptor missile.
    • Missile Firing Unit: This unit launches interceptor missiles.
  • The Iron Dome is operational in all weather conditions, including day and night.
  • Each missile contains a proximity fuse, which is a laser-controlled fuse that activates when it is within ten meters of the target, releasing shrapnel to destroy it.
  • The warhead is detonated to match the missile and target velocities for effective interception.
  • The Iron Dome serves as a crucial defense system for Israel, protecting against various threats, especially rocket attacks from hostile entities.

The Yom Kippur War: A Historic Conflict

  • The Yom Kippur War, also known as the October War or Ramadan War, took place from October 6 to 25, 1973.
  • It was a conflict between Israel on one side and Egypt and Syria on the other.
Significance of Yom Kippur:
  • Yom Kippur is the holiest day in Judaism and Samaritanism, observed on the 10th day of the lunar month of Tishri, which usually falls in September or early October.
  • It is known as the Day of Atonement.
  • Following its decisive victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel had gained a reputation for being unbeatable.
  • Israel also captured territories from its neighboring countries during the war, including the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt.
  • Six years later, in 1973, Egypt and Syria launched a coordinated attack on Israel.
  • Israel was caught off guard as it did not expect an attack during the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
  • Many Israeli soldiers were on leave for Yom Kippur, further delaying their response.
  • Initially, both Syria and Egypt made territorial gains.


  • Israel eventually halted the advances of Syrian and Egyptian forces after three days and launched counterattacks.
Comparison with Current Violence:

The recent attacks on Israel have been compared to the Yom Kippur War for several reasons:

  • Deadliest Attack Since Yom Kippur War: The current violence marks the deadliest attack on Israel since the Yom Kippur War, with over 2,500 Israeli soldiers killed during the Yom Kippur conflict.
  • Criticism for Unpreparedness: Similar to the Yom Kippur War, the recent attacks on Israel caught the state by surprise, despite Israel’s advanced intelligence and interception systems.
  • Timing: The attacks occurred during the observance of Simchat Torah, a significant Jewish holiday that marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah readings and the start of a new one.

Significance of the Yom Kippur War:

Israel’s Vulnerability:
  • The Yom Kippur War shattered the perception of Israel’s invincibility. The heavy casualties it suffered during the conflict demonstrated that Israel could be seriously harmed, if not defeated, in battle.
  • This realization had a lasting impact on Israel’s military and strategic thinking.
Egypt’s Strategy:
  • Egypt’s strategy in launching the Yom Kippur War was not necessarily to defeat Israel militarily, given Israel’s superior military capabilities. Instead, it aimed to inflict significant damage on Israel, making it more amenable to negotiations.
  • The war achieved its objective by bruising Israel and pushing it towards the negotiating table.
For Egypt:
  • As a result of the conflict, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt under the 1978 Camp David Accords.
  • The 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, which followed the war, marked a historic moment as it was the first instance of an Arab country officially recognizing Israel as a state and establishing diplomatic relations.
  • The Yom Kippur War played a crucial role in paving the way for peace between Egypt and Israel, reshaping regional dynamics.
For Syria:
  • The Yom Kippur War did not bring favorable outcomes for Syria. Israel ended up occupying more of the strategically significant and fertile Golan Heights plateau, a territory it continues to hold to this day.
  • Syria’s attempt to regain control of the Golan Heights during the war was unsuccessful, leading to a continued state of conflict and territorial dispute with Israel.

-Source: Indian Express

May 2024