The Iranian rockets are larger than the ones Hamas has traditionally used. Western intelligence officials say components are smuggled into Gaza — most likely through tunnels across the Sinai border — and assembled in small factories disguised as residences.
“We don’t think they have that many more,” Oren said of the
Israel’s air assault on rocket sites inside Gaza has been largely successful, Oren and other Israel officials claimed, and the longer-range rockets that have been launched in this conflict have caused no casualties.
“They haven’t caused any damage, they haven’t caused any casualties,” Oren said. “It’s more of a psychological issue so far.”
Israeli officials released updated figures Friday that they said show improving performance knocking down incoming rockets. By late in the day, Iron Dome batteries had destroyed 192 of the 200 Hamas rockets the system had sought to engage, Israel’s Ministry of Defense reported.
“Iron Dome continues to be an amazing success story, with a 90 percent success rate,” Oren said. “In terms of defending the south, it’s really a remarkable story.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called President Obama on Friday, expressed his “deep appreciation” for the U.S. investment in the Iron Dome defense system, the White House said in a statement.
The United States has invested heavily in the Iron Dome, with lawmakers approving an estimated $900 million spread over several years. Its advanced radar system calculates the flight path of incoming rockets and decides within seconds whether a rocket’s course will lead to a populated areaor empty field. More than 400 Hamas rockets were allowed to land because they were deemed to be of little threat, said a senior Israeli defense official,who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the system’s performance.
“The result has actually been better than we expected,” the official said.
“Obviously, Hamas has made significant improvements to its arsenal,” mostly by smuggling in better equipment, said a Middle East weapons analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential assessment of Hamas’s military capability.
Oren said Hamas’s arsenal also included Syrian rockets and Libyan weapons smuggled out of that country after the fall of dictator Moammar Gaddafi.
Warrick reported from Amman, Jordan. Karin Brulliard in Jerusalem and Craig Whitlock contributed to this report.