US President Barack Obama’s first engagement upon landing in Israel on March 20 will be a quick tour of the Iron Dome missile interceptor stationed at Ben Gurion international airport. After a round of handshakes, the officers and men operating the system will explain how it works.
In normal circumstances, personal security arrangements for a US presidential foreign visit are kept under close wraps and rarely visible to the public.
This time, DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources report, the visit’s planners made an exception. They decided there was no option but to visibly install an Iron Dome battery inside the airport, because the first battery plus a Patriot interceptor stationed for more than two months north and south of Tel Aviv were not sufficient guarantee of security against rocket attack for President Obama’s arrival.
This decision set up two precedents:
1. Air Force One will land on the Ben Gurion airport runway on March 20 enclosed by two defensive rings of US and Israeli missile interceptors in the densest formation ever to guard an American president’s arrival in Israel.
2. The Iron Dome battery will stay in place for the three days of Obama’s visits to Israel and Jordan. It will defend Jerusalem’s air space against rocket attack for the duration of his stay.
Still fresh in Israeli memories are Hamas attempts just five months ago to hit the airport and Jerusalem with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip on the orders of the Iranian general Gen. Hassan Shateri aka Hossam Khosh-Nevis. This Iranian officer was killed in January in Syria in unknown circumstances.
Full article: Iron Dome for Obama’s Israel landing – in case of al Qaeda, chemical attack (DEBKAfile)