The US Army will return its two Iron Dome batteries to Israel to fortify Jerusalem’s air defenses amid intensified conflict with Hamas.
The batteries Washington procured from the Middle Eastern nation several years ago will reportedly be under lease so the ownership can remain with the US.
According to a defense official, the batteries will help Israel sustain its Iron Dome air defense systems to better protect its citizens against missiles fired by the Palestinian militant group.
An official from Jerusalem clarified that the systems will be operated by Israeli teams, not American.
Transferring the two batteries is expected to occur “within days,” according to a congressional aide familiar with the matter.
The batteries are currently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. No further details were provided due to “operational security.”
‘Stretched to the Limit’
Since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel earlier this month, thousands of rockets and missiles have been fired by the militant group and Israeli Defense Forces.
On Wednesday, a barrage of artillery strikes toward central and southern Israel wounded at least six civilians and damaged Israeli infrastructure.
With the number of missiles being fired into Jerusalem lately, the country’s Iron Dome system risks being stretched to the limit, a report from Bloomberg said.
The platform’s estimated 90-percent interception rate could fall due to the enemy’s intensifying offensives.
However, US President Joe Biden assured the country’s Middle Eastern ally that Washington will continue “to keep the Iron Dome fully supplied so it can continue standing sentinel over Israeli skies, saving Israeli lives.”
“Most Statistically Successful Air Defense System’
Built by Israeli firm Rafael in partnership with American contractor Raytheon, the Iron Dome system can fire up to 20 missile interceptors from three or four launchers attached to a battery.
One battery can reportedly defend nearly 60 square miles (96 square kilometers) of territory.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Iron Dome is among the world’s most statistically successful air defense systems, with more than 2,000 rockets intercepted since it was first launched in 2011.