The strategic importance of Iron Dome cannot be understated. It has been a game changer on a number of different levels.
First, the anti-missile system, which has a 90-percent success rate, undermines the very rationale behind Hamas’s continued investment in rockets and missiles.
For years, Hamas, initially with the aid of Iran and more recently through a combination of homegrown production and smuggling via underground tunnels, has amassed an impressive arsenal.
Instead of devoting time, resources, and funds to transforming the Gaza Strip, with its beautiful beaches and Mediterranean climate, into a tourism center and a pleasant place to live, Hamas has since 2007, when it wrested control of Gaza from Fatah in a bloody coup d’ete, focused on continuing “the struggle” against Israel.
While the vast majority of Gaza’s population lives in poverty, Hamas uses its limited resources to strengthen its terrorist capabilities.
With the deployment of Iron Dome, Hamas has discovered that all this investment was for naught. After six days of firing hundreds of rockets and missiles at civilian population centers, Hamas has, of this writing, failed to achieve the malicious goal of murdering an Israeli, though a 16-year-old was critically wounded by shrapnel on Sunday. This must be doubly aggravating for Gazans.
Not only has Hamas cruelly neglected its own people by choosing terrorism over good governance, it has invested in weapons that have proven to be largely ineffectual thanks to the tremendous success of Iron Dome.
We cannot expect Hamas, an organization driven by irrational religious dictates emanating from a fundamentalist understanding of Islam, to reach the logical conclusion that terrorism is a course of action that is ultimately self-destructive. But will pressure increase among Gazans to demand a political leadership that advances Palestinians’ best interests? Will Gazans call on Hamas to stop purposely placing rocket launchers in the midst of the civilian population? Will they demand that Hamas stop using Gaza’s citizens as human shields? Will they declare their allegiance to a leadership that builds instead of destroys, that pursues economic growth and prosperity instead of war and aggression, that values life over martyrdom? Or has the collective insanity spawned by blind Islamic zealotry spread too far among Gaza’s populace? The deployment of Iron Dome also sharply contrasts Israel’s values with those of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Islamic terrorist organizations operating in Gaza.
Israel has devoted its best minds to devising a technology that protects the lives of Israeli citizens. In contrast, not only has the Palestinian political leadership failed to develop anything remotely similar to Iron Dome, they have not even bothered to provide bomb shelters for their citizens. What is one to infer from this? No father, no mother wants to see his or her child die.
No son or daughter wants to bury a parent prematurely.
But central to the strategy of terrorist organizations such as Hamas is the use of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side as a means of delegimitizing the Israeli war effort. There are no bomb shelters in Gaza, because building them would save civilian lives and this would be counter to the Palestinian cause as conceived by Hamas.
Finally, Iron Dome provides our decision makers – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and other members of the security cabinet – with important breathing space. Large numbers of Israeli casualties would force Israeli leaders to quickly escalate the military effort in an attempt to stop the rockets and missiles fired by Hamas. That would inevitably lead to more Palestinian casualties, particularly since Hamas purposely endangers its civilians to maximize the number of “martyrs.” Discourse on the possibility of a ground invasion, therefore, is presently taking place in a level-headed atmosphere based on pros versus cons.
If not for Iron Dome’s tremendous success, Israel might have found itself dragged into an even more violent confrontation, which would have led to more casualties on both the Israel and Palestinian sides. Iron Dome is a blessing.