35 rockets and shells got through; Iron Dome intercepted 240

Hamas says it beat Iron Dome with concentrated salvos. The IDF says it didn’t

Officials say that despite new tactic by Gaza terror groups, relatively few projectiles managed to penetrate Israel’s missile defense system, which had an 86% success rate

Illustrative: A barrage of rockets being fired from the Hamas-run Gaza into Israel on May 5, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Illustrative: A barrage of rockets being fired from the Hamas-run Gaza into Israel on May 5, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hamas’s military wing boasted Monday that it had developed a new rocket-launching tactic that “overcame” Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, leading to the deaths and injuries of numerous Israelis over the past two days.

A spokesman for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Obeida, said in a social media post that “The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst.”

“The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles that were introduced by the Qassam [Brigades]… succeeded in causing great losses and destruction to the enemy,” he added.

However, while Hamas and Islamic Jihad indeed attempted to overwhelm Iron Dome by repeatedly firing large fusillades at a specific location, comparatively few rockets actually succeeded in penetrating the system, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

An Israeli child on May 6, 2019, looks at shattered glass at the entrance to a building damaged by a rocket strike from the Gaza Strip, in the southern Israeli city of Ashdod. (Jack Guez/AFP)

In all, Gaza’s terror groups fired some 690 projectiles at Israel during the 41 hours of fighting from Saturday morning to predawn Monday — the largest-ever number of projectiles fired from the Strip in a two-day period.

In one case, over the course of one hour, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday evening, at least 117 rockets were fired at the city of Ashdod, but only one of the projectiles made it past Israel’s air defenses.

That rocket killed Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21, a dual American-Israeli citizen, as he was running for shelter as the alert siren sounded.

Israeli emergency personnel gather at the site of a rocket attack in the southern Israeli town of Ashdod on May 5, 2019. (Photo by Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Three other Israelis were killed in attacks from the Strip on Sunday: Moshe Agadi, 58; Zaid al-Hamamdeh, 47; and Moshe Feder, 68.

Feder was not killed by ballistic rocket fire, but by an anti-tank guided missile fired at his car as he drove on a road near the Gaza border.

He sustained a serious shrapnel wound to the leg, causing significant blood loss, and was pronounced dead at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center after resuscitation efforts failed. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.

During the fighting, Hamas also attempted to use a new style of rocket, one with a short range and a heavy warhead, packed with dozens to hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

An Israeli police sapper holds part of an exploded Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in a village near the Gaza border, May 5, 2019. (AP/Tsafrir Abayov)

The terror group believed these rockets would get past Israel’s air defenses, just as, during the 2014 Gaza war, Iron Dome struggled to intercept short-range mortar shells.

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad also said it used a new longer range rocket with a 250-kilogram warhead, known as the Badr 3, in its attacks on the coastal city of Ashkelon.

However, technological upgrades and other improvements to the Iron Dome allowed it to shoot down these different rockets, Maj. Tom Scott, one of the commanders of an Iron Dome battery in southern Israel, told The Times of Israel during the fighting.

Maj. Tom Scott, a commander of an Iron Dome missile defense battery, stands in front of one of the systems in an undated photograph. (Israel Defense Forces)

“We try to stay ahead of them even as they are trying to get ahead of us,” he said.

According to Scott, the missile defense system is capable of intercepting “many different threats,” including “large barrages or short-range rockets or rockets fired at high altitude or at low altitude.”

In total, 35 rockets and mortar shells of the nearly 700 fired from the Gaza Strip struck populated areas over the course of Saturday and Sunday, according to the military.

The military said that while this underlined that the Iron Dome is not impenetrable, the system was overall effective, with 240 interceptions and an 86 percent success rate — similar to previous rounds of intensive rocket fire.

Scott noted that the Iron Dome’s radars also successfully spotted every rocket and mortar launch, which ensured that Israelis were warned of incoming projectiles ahead of time by sirens.

Illustrative: Screen capture from a speech given by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades Spokesperson Abu Obeida on April 17, 2016. (Facebook)

In response to the onslaught from Gaza, the Israeli military conducted over 300 strikes from the air and land, including a rare assassination of a terrorist operative, who the IDF said funneled money from Iran to terror groups in the Strip.

“In the past two days, we’ve renewed the policy of assassinating senior terrorists. We’ve killed dozens of Hamas and [Palestinian] Islamic Jihad terrorists and we toppled terror towers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, said Monday.

A spokesperson for Hamas also said that although the recent flareup in violence had come to an end, the wider conflict would continue.

“The resistance managed to deter the IDF,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, according to the Kan public broadcaster, referring to the Gaza terror groups.

A picture taken from the southern village of Netiv Ha’asara shows missiles fired from Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepting rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on May 4, 2019. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

“Our message is that this round is over, but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights.”

The ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups went into effect at 4:30 a.m. Monday, according to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.

The Israeli government refused to confirm the reported truce, apparently so as to avoid publicly acknowledging its negotiations with terrorist groups.

However, the military announced that, as of 7 a.m., it was lifting all security restrictions that had been in place in the south during the fighting, and that schools would be allowed to open, indicating that a ceasefire had indeed been reached.

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 29 Palestinians were killed by Israeli strikes, including two pregnant women and a baby. Israel said one of the women and the baby were killed in a failed rocket launch inside Gaza and not as a result of IDF actions.

The scene of a car hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip near the Israel-Gaza border on May 5, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

An IDF spokesperson could not immediately comment on the reported death toll in Gaza. The IDF said it only struck terrorist targets.

At least 11 of the Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip since Friday were members of terror groups, according to Islamic Jihad and Hamas. Eight of the eleven members of terror groups belonged to the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing.

The Al-Quds Brigades confirmed on its website the identities of eight of its members killed in Isaeli strikes.

Hamas’s Qassam Brigades similarly confirmed in statements that three others killed during the fighting belonged to its ranks.

Unlike past rounds of fighting, the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad was accused by Israel of being a main instigator of the violence over the weekend, rather than Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.

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