March 13, 2013
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.
The innovative counter-missile weapon is to be deployed there, not just as a spectacle to honor the US president for his contribution to its development, but out of necessity for his safety. Air Force One might be seen as fair game for the ground-to-ground missiles wielded by Al Qaeda units fighting Assad in Syria and its affiliates in the Sinai Peninsula at the very moment that the US President steps down to the strains of the IDF welcoming band.
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.
Full story here.