IDF to unveil new radar system for mortar shells
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IDF to unveil new radar system for mortar shells

Southern residents could have 7-8 extra seconds to reach shelter in event of attack; army advances plans to build ‘smart barrier’ along Gaza border

A bucket of mortar shell pieces from bombs fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip into Israel, March 19, 2011. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)
A bucket of mortar shell pieces from bombs fired by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip into Israel, March 19, 2011. (Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90)

The Israel Defense Forces is set to unveil a new radar system developed by the army that would improve warning time for southern residents in cases of incoming short-range rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The system will be operational next month in communities surrounding the Palestinian enclave, which are vulnerable to rocket attacks.

The new technology is expected to allow an extra seven to eight seconds for residents to seek shelter between the time the projectile is launched and the siren sounds.

More importantly, the system will allow for sirens to be triggered early enough in areas in which previous warning times were insufficient — or even nonexistent. Some communities only have up to five seconds of warning time to run for shelter.

Daniel Tragerman, 4, seen during a visit at the presidential residence in Jerusalem in early August. Daniel was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell that hit his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on Friday, August 22, 2014. He was laid to rest on August 24. (Photo by Flash90)
Daniel Tragerman, 4, seen during a visit to the president’s residence in Jerusalem in early August 2014. Daniel was killed by shrapnel from a mortar shell that hit his home in Kibbutz Nahal Oz on August 22, 2014. (Flash90)

During the war in Gaza last summer, there were several fatal instances in which mortar shells launched from the Strip exploded with little to no warning, killing soldiers and civilians, including four-year-old Daniel Tragerman on the penultimate day of the 50-day war. The Tragerman family, from Kibbutz Nahal Oz, had only three seconds to reach shelter before the mortar exploded right outside the family home, killing the boy.

Two other civilians were killed by mortar shells on the last day of the war.

“Hamas realized it could damage the locales by firing high-trajectory short-range projectiles, which challenge our discovery and response times,” an IDF officer told Haaretz in July, when the system was still in development. “We have been installing the system over the last few months and expect to man it in the near future. We want to have these radar systems in the locales by the High Holidays.”

According to Channel 2 TV, the IDF on Sunday also approved plans to build a “smart barrier” between Israel and the Gaza Strip, like the one along the border with Egypt that includes advanced technological systems. The construction proposal now needs to be approved by the political echelon.

The cost of the project, according to Haaretz, is estimated at NIS 500 million ($127 million) and was held up due to budget constraints.

Following the passing of the budget last month, the project is expected to move forward.

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