Hundreds of rockets were fired toward the Northern settlements of Israel during the 2006 Second Lebanon War. Today, 9 years later, IAF’s Air Defense Division is leading the home front defense mission
The Second Lebanon War broke out on July 12, 2006, in a Hezbollah attack near the Israel’s Northern border. Two IDF soldiers were kidnapped and three were killed in parallel with heavy artillery shelling. The IDF responded with aerial strikes and ground attacks against the terrorist organization in Southern Lebanon.
Hundreds of rockets were fired toward Northern Israeli settlements during the war, exposing the IDF and the Israeli citizens to the enormous damage of rocket fire for the first time. During the war’s opening attack, Operation “Specific gravity”, the IAF destroyed a significant portion of Hezbollah’s long-range rockets arsenal, intended to reach central Israel.
One of the “First” squadron’s missions, an aerial imagery intelligence squadron, was “missile hunt”. “Throughout the fighting, the squadron’s aircrew members and air reconnaissance controllers scanned areas in Lebanon in order to locate launching pads”, explains Major Omer from the “First” squadron. “Air reconnaissance controllers directed the relevant forces to their targets in real time”.
From Plain Alert to Maximum Protection
The intense fighting, together with the many causalities and severe damage to property, necessitated a long process of drawing conclusions and implementation of many changes in the IDF and IAF. Perhaps the most significant is the growth of the Air Defense Division as a vital force for protecting the Israeli home front. The “Iron Dome”, “Arrow” and “Patriot” missile defense systems deal with identification and alert missions, and of course interception, during routine and in times of emergency. During Operation “Protective Edge”, over 90 percent of the rockets were successfully intercepted by the “Iron Dome” operators.
During the 2006 war, the only reaction against the rocket barrage was alert. “Back then we didn’t have a defensive response against the hundreds of missiles fired toward Israel every day. Our only answer was providing sufficient alert”, says Colonel (Res.) Eitan Yariv, retired commander of IAF’s Air Defense Division. “The hardest hit caused by the war in Lebanon was the severe damage to the home front. The scale of damage to property and to human life was immense. Over the years, the IAF has perfected the missions of detection (of rockets) and alert by efficiently orchestrating various systems, combat soldiers and command and control units. 9 years has passed since that war, and the Air Defense Division is now providing the best protection it has ever provided”.