What is Israel's Iron Dome?

Hamas fighters have fired over 200 missiles into Israel this week in response to an Israeli offensive sparked by the abduction and murder of three Israeli teens. 

Since 2001, members of Hamas have launched thousands of missiles from the Gaza Strip into the country.

Traveling at speeds of 200 meters per second, the missiles give Israelis little chance to find cover. Over 60 Israelis have died in these attacks since 2001. 

Yet The Guardian reports that in this most recent episode of attacks, Israel has suffered zero casualties. 

The reason? The Iron Dome — a defense system that could have been pulled straight out of "Star Wars." (Via Infolive)  

How does it work? It all starts when a missile is fired at Israel — and is immediately detected by the Iron Dome's powerful radar. 

The radar determines if the missile is headed toward a city. If it is, two Israeli rockets are automatically launched and guided by radar toward the missile. 

When close enough, they explode — and theoretically blow the missile to pieces. (Via Israel Defense Forces)

The Iron Dome can react to multiple rocket firings at once, during the day and at night. 

If it sounds complicated, it is — and it far outmatches the missile shields of much larger nations. An Israeli official called the system "unprecedented in history." (Via Time)

It's also expensive. Haaretz says Israel spent over $1 billion developing it. Each unit costs $55 million and each missile fired costs another $100,000.  

But Israel is no ordinary country. The small nation's history of warfare and booming technology sector make it a natural home for advanced defense systems.

It also boasts a political base that extends beyond its borders. Israel Hayom reports the United States has given $947 million to help develop the weapon system. 

Since its deployment in 2011, it has become more and more effective. The Jerusalem Post reports a 90 percent success rate in this latest round of conflict.

On Friday alone, Iron Dome intercepted three missiles set to explode in Tel Aviv. (Via Jewish Press)

"People running for cover. Iron Dome, the defense system, seemingly taking out one of the rockets at least in the skies on Friday." (Via Al Jazeera)

Iron Dome has given the Israeli military cover to launch its own missile attacks on the Gaza Strip. Over 100 Palestinians have so far died in the bombings. (Via The Wall Street Journal)  

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