IDF defends use of Iron Dome after walking back claim of drone interception

Military says unclear if there had even been aerial target, but launch of interceptors according to protocol

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Two Iron Dome interceptor missiles are seen launched over Sderot, February 4, 2023. (Dadi Fold/Courtesy)
Two Iron Dome interceptor missiles are seen launched over Sderot, February 4, 2023. (Dadi Fold/Courtesy)

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday night published the results of an investigation into the launch of Iron Dome missiles in southern Israel a night earlier.

The IDF said Saturday night that it had intercepted a drone flying over the Gaza Strip, but later walked back on the claim.

The IDF said the investigation found that the interceptors were launched according to protocol, “and with correct operational judgment.”

However, it remained unclear if there had actually been a drone or other aerial target that needed intercepting.

Residents of southern Israel in the Sderot area and Palestinians in northern Gaza reported hearing a large explosion during the incident.

Footage showed two Iron Dome interceptor missiles being launched.

The Sderot municipality assured residents that no rockets had been fired toward the city.

No sirens sounded in the area, and the IDF said there are no special instructions for residents following the incident.

The Iron Dome was first used operationally to intercept a Hamas drone in May 2021, during an 11-day conflict with Palestinian terror groups in the Strip, known in Israel as Operation Guardian of the Walls. During the conflict, the system also mistakenly shot down an Israeli drone.

Last May, the IDF shot down a drone over the Strip, and before that in November 2021, the IDF shot down a Hamas drone that was flown out to sea.

Israel typically does not interfere when Hamas conducts drone test flights, only when they are being flown out of the Strip.

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