US to deploy Israeli ‘Iron Dome’ system in Gulf
The US is to deploy the Israeli-made Iron Dome rocket interceptor defence system to its bases in the Gulf states, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Sunday.
The Iron Dome defence system was first put into operation by Israel in 2011, to intercept rockets fired by Palestinian factions. Israel has fought three wars against Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip since 2008.
Haaretz said that Israel had approved the US transfer of the system to the Gulf following its normalisation of relations with two Gulf states, the UAE and Bahrain in September last year
The Israeli newspaper described the Iron Dome system as “one of the jewels of Israel's arms manufacturing industry”.
In August 2019, the US and Israel signed an agreement under which Israel would provide two Iron Dome systems to the US. The second of these systems was handed over to the US three weeks ago, according to Haaretz.
The US had previously announced that it would buy a small number of Iron Dome systems to “be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed US military service against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats.”
Israeli officials had agreed to allow the system to be deployed at US bases in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
While the US has refused to reveal where exactly the Iron Dome system will be deployed, Haaretz said that Israel had given tacit approval to the US to defend its forces from Iran-backed militias.
The Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi movement has previously claimed dozens of rocket attacks on Saudi Arabia, as well as attack. On Saturday, Saudi air defences intercepted a rocket attack on Riyadh but the Houthis denied responsibility.
Iranian-backed militias have also launched rocket attacks at bases where US troops were present in Iraq.
The Iron Dome system’s ability to defend against rocket attacks is questionable, with Hamas’s military wing saying in 2019 that it had "overcome the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of rockets in a single burst," during an outbreak of fighting with Israel.