Army deploys Iron Dome near Jerusalem

Army deploys Iron Dome near Jerusalem

Anti-rocket battery stationed outside capital for first time as preparation for fallout from possible US strike against Assad

Aaron Kalman is a former writer and breaking news editor for the Times of Israel

Israeli soldiers walk by an Iron Dome missile defense system deployed near Jerusalem, September 2013. (photo credit Flash90)
Israeli soldiers walk by an Iron Dome missile defense system deployed near Jerusalem, September 2013. (photo credit Flash90)

An Iron Dome battery was deployed near Jerusalem for the first time Sunday, as the IDF continued to prepare for the possibility that rockets or missiles will be fired at Israel as a result of a military operation against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.

In late August, some 1,400 people were killed — according to American numbers — by an apparent sarin gas attack allegedly perpetrated by the Assad regime. The attack prompted US President Barack Obama to plan a “limited” punitive response, for which he this week hopes to obtain approval from Congress.

The decision to deploy the missile-defense platform near Jerusalem was made by the army’s top brass following an updated assessment of the situation. The move came only weeks after an Iron Dome platform was deployed in the north and days after one was removed from the Tel Aviv area.

“The IDF doesn’t provide information about its defensive array,” the army said in a statement. “The missile-defense system is deployed according to updated assessments.”

Sirens sounded in Jerusalem during the November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza, catching residents of the capital off-guard. It was the first time in over 20 years that air-raid sirens sounded in the capital — since the 1991 Gulf War. No missiles actually landed in the city, but two fell nearby.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other political and security chiefs have assessed a “low” probability of the Assad regime or its allies hitting Israel in response to a US-led attack on Syria, though Syrian and Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened to strike Israel if Obama goes ahead with military intervention.

Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel remained an island of stability and safety in the unstable Middle East because of what he called sober policies and unspecified actions by the security hierarchy, some of which were not known to the public.

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