Hezbollah video confirms Iron Dome struck by missile

Footage posted by Lebanese group shows projectile hitting Israeli outpost

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepts rockets launched from the Gaza Strip. Reuters
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Hezbollah appeared to confirm on Thursday the damage or destruction of an Israeli Iron Dome air defence missile launcher.

A video released by the group shows a camera view from a projectile flying into an Israeli outpost and striking the Iron Dome launcher, as the footage cuts out.

The site shown is the same as another Iron Dome battery shown in a video released on Wednesday, which showed the area under drone observation and artillery attack.

The Israeli army said on Thursday it was not aware of any damage to its Iron Dome launchers, although it later announced that a soldier was killed in a strike on northern Israel.

Hezbollah has increased access to sophisticated guided weapons, with equipment supplied by Iran after being smuggled through Syria.

The attack comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and senior generals warn of a major ground operation in southern Lebanon, following a sharp escalation in violence along the border.

Hezbollah and Israel began daily clashes along the border on October 8, a day after the start of the devastating Israel-Gaza war. Hezbollah says it is operating in support of Hamas, and the Lebanon-Israel border has been the site of regular exchanges of rocket and missile fire, and Israeli air strikes.

About 450 people have been killed in Lebanon, including 88 civilians, according to an AFP tally. Israel says 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed on its side of the border.

Thursday’s video is similar to another released in January, which shows a TV-guided weapon strike on an Israeli electronic warfare and observation outpost.

TV-guided systems allow the operator of the missile to correct its course based on images sent back to a command and launch unit.

Defence analyst Joe Truzman said the group used a missile for the strike on the Iron Dome battery, rather than a one-way attack drone, which also sends a video feed back to the drone operator.

Each Iron Dome battery costs about $100 million, with each one consisting of three or four launchers. It has been the mainstay of Israel’s short-range air defence system, shooting down thousands of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets and drones.

Taken together, the two videos appear to show a complex attack on the system involving artillery or rocket fire, which may have forced operating crews to seek shelter, allowing the Hezbollah missile to successfully reach the target.

Hezbollah has in recent months used the Almas anti-tank missile for the first time. It features a TV-guidance system. The missile, according to the Israeli Alma think tank, is a reverse engineered variant of the Israeli Spike missile. Both missiles have multipurpose combat use, with potential for destroying armour or other enemy targets such as fighting positions.

New anti-tank missiles

The Almas and Spike have a “beyond line of sight” capability. Typical anti-tank missiles require the operator to have a line of sight to the target and in some cases wait for the missile to strike to assess whether the hit is successful, before moving to a safer location.

This can involve the operator staying in a dangerous position, especially if the target is farther away than a kilometre away, potentially enabling a counterstrike or evasive action.

Some anti-tank missiles have a workaround for this known as “fire and forget”, which allows the operator to move after firing the missile, which then seeks out the target independently.

The Almas and Spike represent a new generation of the weapon. Using their camera-based guidance, they can fly up over hills in a “lofted” trajectory, keeping the shooter relatively safe.

Both missiles have longer ranges than typical anti-tank guided missiles, reportedly up to 16km (Almas) and 25km (Spike), as opposed to typical anti-tank weapon ranges between 800 metres and 4km.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 7:05 AM