The Iron Dome System Succeeds in Protecting Israelis against Terror from the Skies
Israeli PM Netanyahu at Iron Dome System Battery 3-10-12
The Hebrew Talmud says (derived from Deuteronomy 22:26): Habah l'hargecha hashkem l'hargo -- "If someone is coming to kill you, rise against him and kill him first. However, it should never be done with glee." There is an urban legend that the epigraph is emblazoned on every IDF mess hall door.
That is effectively what the IAF did on Friday when it struck and killed the military commander of the extremist Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and the Palestine Resistance Committee (PRC), Zuhair al-Qaissi. Al-Qaissi was behind the kidnapping, interrogation and initial incarceration of IDF Sgt. Gilad Shalit just before the 2006 Second War in Lebanon. Galid’s unit was overcome in a cross border attack by the PIJ/PRC from Gaza who turned him over to Hamas to rot in a dungeon for nearly six years. Shalit was released in a massive exchange for 1000 Palestinian prisoners in October 2011. The PRC was also purportedly involved in the raid from across the Egyptian border on a bus near Eilat in the Sinai in August 2011. That raid killed one IDF soldier and seven civilians, injuring several others.
The IAF retaliatory raids against the PIJ/PRC triggered a barrage of more than 135 rockets and missiles fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza at towns in Southern Israel and communities in the western Negev including Beersheba.
David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel, provides background as to why the IDF may have chosen this weekend to take out al-Qaissi and several accomplices. Note what Horovitz reports, “Beyond the Gaza headlines”:
As so often in the past, what’s required to fairly assess the reasons behind the current Israel-Gaza flare-up is a smidgen of intellectual honesty, a glance beyond the headlines and the numbers.
Zuhair al-Qaissi, the leader of Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees, made no secret of his activities. It was al-Qaissi, immediately after Gilad Shalit was released in an extortionate prisoner “exchange” last October, who gave interviews to the Arabic and international media detailing how his organization had kidnapped the Israeli soldier, interrogated him, resisted Israeli pleas for his release, and handed Shalit over to Hamas for five years of incarceration.
Al-Qaissi was also reportedly the man who oversaw the transfer of funds from Hezbollah in Lebanon to other extremist groups in Gaza.
Given those central roles, when the Israeli security establishment claims, as it did on Friday, that al-Qaissi was one of the planners of last August’s major infiltration by a group of terrorists – from Gaza, via the Sinai, and into Israel – in which eight Israelis were killed north of Eilat, the claim would seem anything but far-fetched. Likewise, when the Israeli leadership further declares, as it did this weekend, that it resorted to a targeted strike on al-Qaissi, with all the repercussions now being felt across southern Israel, because he was about to orchestrate another such major attack.
The State Department and EU in their statements focused attention on the ‘ unfortunate violence ’and loss of 17 Palestinian terrorists killed in the IAF retaliatory raids. Those statements and reports said very little about the 15 Israelis injured and upwards of possibly one million Israelis who may have sought temporary shelter in fixed and transportable air raid shelters in Israel’s south and the Western Negev. Palestinian terrorist Kassem and Katyusha rockets fired across the border set off 15 and 30 second Red Alert sirens in towns like Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod sending children and adults scurrying for safety into shelters and cancelling school and work on Sunday, a normal work day in Israel.
The media acknowledged the stunning success of the Iron Dome batteries positioned at those three cities in Israel’s south. The Jerusalem Postreported that a fourth battery will come on stream next week. The Israeli developer of the Iron Dome System, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd. is working round the clock to complete at least another 10 to 13 batteries to be positioned in Israel’s north and around the major population center in metro Tel Aviv. Ha’aretz reported that the Iron Dome batteries have intercepted 40 incoming short range rockets and missiles for an amazing 90% hit rate. The media focus has been on the Israelis provoking another clash with Palestinians forcing Hamas to reach out to ‘honest broker’, the interim government in Egypt, to negotiate another “hudna’ or cease fire. Some in the media ven suggest that this weekend’s exchange of rockets fired into Israel from the Gaza strip might be the prelude to Operation Cast Lead II. An attempt to finally clean out Hamas and PIJ weapons caches and alleged MANPADs secreted into Gaza from Libya. Others are rightfully concerned about the more than 40,000 rockets and missiles in southern Lebanon and Syria, the latter which may have chemical and biological warheads.
The Iron Dome system was pushed into development following the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War in the summer of 2006. That was when a veritable rain of katyusha rockets fell daily on northern Israeli towns. These displaced upwards of one million Israelis to face weeks in dank, sweltering underground shelters. Those lucky enough to be evacuated ended up in subsidized seaside holiday camps. The Iron Dome System was initially scoffed at. The Times of Israel said in an article today, Iron Dome was ”initially not wanted, now it is ‘beloved”. Several tests of the system and recent operations by the IAF Home Front Command, including this weekend’s successful interception of rockets and missiles fired by terrorists from Gaza, will accelerate deployment of the SRAM system.
Watch this interview with Israel missile expert Uzi Rubin about how the Iron Dome System contributes to Israel’s security:
The Iron Dome batteries cost approximately $40 million to produce. The replacement SRAM rockets cost $40,000 each. Israel will spend the equivalent of a half billion dollars to build and deploy upwards of 13 batteries on a fast track schedule by mid-2013.
At issue is whether these Iron Dome batteries will be installed prior to any possible IDF attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons program facilities in order to provide a protective umbrella. Moreover, IDF planners will also have to weigh the necessity of simultaneously taking out the enormous and potentially dangerous rockets and missile caches in both Southern Lebanon and Syria. Then there is the shortage of effective gas masks for protection against chemical and biological warheads fired from Syrian missiles. This is Eerily familiar to older Israelis who lived through the Iraqi SCUD attacks of the first Gulf War in 1991 launched by the Republican Guards of the late Saddam Hussein.
Note these comments in a CNN report from former Israeli UN Ambassador Dore Gold and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak:
Amb. Dore Gold:
The most important question is how would the Iron Dome affect the decisions of Hamas leaders and their Iranian supporters? While Hamas rockets are aimed primarily to target civilians and terrorize the Israeli home front, a secondary and just as important aim is to hit strategic sites in the future. Eliminating the ability to hit strategic targets may lead Hamas to rethink the efficiency of acquiring the rockets it has used in the past.
Minister of Defense Ehud Barak:
This system is part of a wider multi-layer interception system, which not only protects our citizens but also allows freedom of activity for the IDF and political leadership. This is crucial as we face threats from all around us.
Nonetheless, Israel’s Iron Dome System demonstrated its effectiveness and prowess this weekend. Now, courtesy of commitments made by Israeli PM Netanyahu and Minister of Defense Barak, more batteries will soon be on the way frustrating the objectives of Israel’s terrorist enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah. With a 90 % hit rate, no wonder the Iron Dome is “beloved” by Israelis.