The Home Front Command has reportedly finished work on a new radar that will improve the warning system for residents of southern communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip of incoming mortar shells.
The system will shorten the time between the launch of a shell and when warning sirens are triggered, giving residents of communities adjacent to the Palestinian enclave a full 15-second warning of incoming shells, Army Radio reported Monday.
Though Israel’s current alert, based on the Iron Dome radar, warns of incoming rockets and gives communities about 15 seconds to reach shelters, it has proved less effective against short-range shells, often leaving residents little to no warning of attacks.
Alon Schuster, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, welcomed the new warning system, saying the improvements could save lives.
“Those 15 seconds are important. They improve the response time for anyone who needs to find shelter,” he told Army Radio.
“People come to live here because they know that Israel does whatever it can to protect its citizens from existential threats, whether they come from the sky or from underground,” Schuster said, alluding to Hamas efforts to tunnel under the border.
Development of the system began in the wake of Israel’s war with Hamas in 2014, when the Gaza-based terror organization lobbed hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israeli cities and towns.
During the 50-day conflict, mortars proved to be one of the deadliest means of attack, claiming the lives of 10 IDF soldiers in a single week, three Israeli civilians and a Thai national.
Although the area has been relatively calm since the end of the war, sporadic rocket fire and attacks on IDF patrols have often originated in areas adjacent to the Sha’ar Hanegev region.
The project, which cost an estimated at NIS 500 million ($132 million) according to the Haaretz daily, was due to be completed in 2015, but was delayed due to budget constraints.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.