Iron Dome (Hebrew: כיפת ברזל) is a mobile air defense system in development by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems designed to intercept short-range rockets and artillery shells. The system was created as a defensive countermeasure to the rocket threat against Israel's civilian population on its northern and southern borders, and was declared operational and initially deployed in the first quarter of 2011. It is designed to intercept very short-range threats up to 70 kilometers in all-weather situations. On April 7, 2011, the system successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza, marking the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted. On April 8 it made history again by successfully intercepting 3 rockets from the same attack.
During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, approximately 4,000 Hezbollah-fired rockets (the great majority of which were short-range Katyusha rockets) landed in northern Israel, including on Haifa, the country's third largest city. The massive rocket barrage killed 44 Israeli civilians and caused some 250,000 Israeli citizens to evacuate and relocate to other parts of Israel while an estimated 1,000,000 Israelis were confined in or near shelters during the conflict.
To the south, more than 4,000 rockets and 4,000 mortars were fired into Israel from Gaza between 2000 and 2008, principally by Hamas (see rocket and mortar attacks on southern Israel). The overwhelming majority of rockets fired were Qassams but Hamas has expanded its range through the introduction of 122-mm Grad launchers smuggled into the Gaza Strip. Nearly 1,000,000 Israelis living in the south are within rocket range, posing a serious security threat to the country and its citizens.