In the present renewed military conflict between Israel and the Hamas Palestinian terrorists (1) of the Gaza Strip, Hamas has not had much success with its rockets fired toward Tel Aviv and other major population centers in Israel. According to the Israeli Army, 90% of the rockets have been intercepted and shot down.
(1) Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel and a number of Western and non-Western governments, including the United States, Canada, the European Union, Jordan, Egypt and Japan
According to Barbara Ordman, who lives in Ma’ale Adumim on the West Bank, “one of the terrorists from Gaza was reported to say when asked why they couldn’t aim their rockets more effectively: ‘We do aim them, but their God changes their path in mid-air.’”
Rather than God changing the path of those rockets “in mid-air,” the credit should be given to the impressive success of Israel’s 5 “Iron Dome” antimissile batteries:
Iron Dome is a mobile all-weather air defense system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, with generous U.S. funding. (The U.S. has “contributed” more than $1 billion to Iron Dome.) The system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells fired from distances of 2.5 to 43 miles away.
In spite of U.S. defense officials’ cautioning that an Israeli short-range antimissile system would be “doomed to fail,” Iron Dome was operational and first deployed on March 27, 2011 near Beersheba. 11 days later, on April 7, 2011, the system for the first time successfully intercepted a Grad rocket launched from Gaza. By November 2012, Israeli officials said Iron Dome had intercepted and shot down 90% or 400+ rockets launched from Gaza, which would have landed in populated areas. That led defense reporter Mark Thompson to call Iron Dome “the most-effective, most-tested missile shield the world has ever seen.”
Go here for a dissenting view that Iron Dome works just a small fraction of the time, according to a detailed analysis carried out by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Iron Dome’s manufacturer claims the air-defense system will operate day and night, under adverse weather conditions, and can respond to multiple threats simultaneously. Iron Dome has three central components:
- A detection and tracking radar system built by Israeli defense company Elta and the IDF (Israel Defense Forces).
- A battle management and weapon control (BMC) center built by Israeli software company mPrest Systems.
- A missile firing unit built by Rafael which launches the Tamir interceptor missile, equipped with electro-optic sensors and several steering fins for high maneuverability. The missile is built by Rafael.
On January 17, 2014, Barack Obama signed the fiscal year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act that includes $235 million for Israel’s Iron Dome system, with an agreement by the Israeli government to spend more than half of the $235 million in the United States. In July 2014 it was announced that Raytheon will be the major U.S. partner in co-production of major components for the Iron Dome’s Tamir intercepting missile.
Iron Dome does have its detractors.
Writing in The Washington Post on July 14, 2014, Yoav Fromer, who teaches politics and history at Tel Aviv University, cautions:
…over time, Iron Dome may do them more harm than good. What looks like a tactical miracle may, accidentally, help engender a grave strategic blunder. Technology can mislead us by providing a false sense of security. But it cannot – and must not – become a substitute for effective diplomacy. And Iron Dome’s ability to protect Israelis from periodic rocket attacks so far will never remove the strife and discontent that has produced the motivation to ruthlessly fire them in the first place.
Iron Dome was originally engineered to defend Israelis from rockets launched in Lebanon and Gaza. But what was once a tactical defense mechanism to temporarily protect the civilian population has become a strategy unto itself. In that way, it may actually undermine Israel’s long-term security. By temporarily minimizing the dangers posed by Hamas and Hezbollah, it distracts us from seeking a broader regional political solution that could finally incapacitate these terror networks and make systems such as Iron Dome moot.
Amir Peretz, Israeli defense minister from 2006 to 2007 and widely seen as the godfather of Iron Dome, echoes Fromer’s view. As reported by The Washington Post on July 14, 2014, Peretz recognizes that Iron Dome is no more than a stopgap measure, for “In the end, the only thing that will bring true quiet is a diplomatic solution.”
That being said, one wonders, however, how there can be “a diplomatic solution” when Hamas consistently and continues to call for nothing less than the obliteration of the State of Israel from the face of the earth.