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Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system not a silver bullet

Israel finished testing its Iron Dome missile defense system today, four years after Hezbollah exposed Israel's vulnerability to rocket attacks. While impressive, the system is not foolproof, say analysts.

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In this undated file photo provided by Israeli Defence Ministry on Jan. 6, purporting to show a rocket fired by the Iron Dome system during a test fire somewhere in southern Israel. Israeli defense officials finished testing on Monday, and will soon be ready for deployment.

Defense Ministry/AP/File

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Four years after Hezbollah exposed Israel's vulnerability to short- and medium-range rockets, Israeli defense officials finished testing on Monday what is supposed to be the answer.

Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system is designed to intercept salvos of primitive rockets from Gaza and Lebanon, drastically reducing the ability of Hamas and Hezbollah to hit Israeli population centers. It's also a blow to Iran, which supports both militant groups, and could use them as proxies in a broader conflict against Israel.

But analysts caution that Iron Dome is not a game-changing development in the Middle East standoff. Though it will give Israeli civilians a sense of added security, they will still be forced to take cover in case of an attack because the system – while capable of taking down multiple missile attacks from different directions – is not foolproof.

"The short-range and medium-range rockets can be launched from every bush in southern Lebanon and every hole in Gaza. The Iron Dome is almost the only effective anti-rocket rocket that can minimize the damage,'' said Ron Ben Yishai, a military and intelligence commentator for the news outlet Yediot Ahronot. "If the system can intercept the rockets that are aimed at built up areas, or vital infrastructure, it's a big relief for Israelis. But it isn’t a silver bullet.''

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