The Iron Dome rocket-defense system has proved to be a major game-changer in the
most recent round of conflict with Islamist terror organizations operating in
Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Since it was first deployed in March 2011,
Iron Dome’s interception success rate has significantly improved from about 75
percent to 90 percent.
During the current round of fighting, the three
anti-rocket batteries – positioned in Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod – have
successfully knocked out of the sky well over 40 rockets which, according to
computations made of their trajectory by Iron Dome’s computer brain, were headed
for populated areas.
If one of these rockets had, God forbid, killed
innocent Israeli civilians – as intended by Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance
Committee terrorists – Israel’s politicians would be under tremendous public
pressure to launch a major military offensive into Gaza Strip as was the case in
the months that led up to Operation Cast Lead, the 22-day military incursion
into Gaza Strip that began in December 2008 and ended in January
But recognition of Iron Dome’s merits was not always taken for
granted. Former IDF Southern Command head Dan Harel admitted Sunday on Army
Radio that he had originally opposed investing in the development of Iron Dome
when the idea was first proposed at the beginning of 2007, although he has since
changed his mind. He felt it would be a waste of money. And he was not
Other leading defense officials and IDF commanders were skeptical
about Iron Dome. MK Amir Peretz (Labor), who served as defense minister at the
time Iron Dome was first proposed, should be praised for having the foresight to
recognize the rocket-defense system’s potential.
But some have wondered
whether the hefty cost of operating Iron Dome – which has been offset by a $205
million grant provided by the Obama administration in 2011 – is worth
Each Tamir missile fired by Iron Dome at a Kassam or Grad rocket
costs about $50,000 and usually two are fired at a time. Assuming more than 40
Tamirs have been fired to intercept rockets fired from Gaza, operating Iron Dome
during the recent round of conflict has cost at least $4m., and this does not
include development costs. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said that as
effective as Iron Dome is, it is unrealistic to think that Israel could fund the
purchase of enough batteries to provide cover for all parts of
Still, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is pushing to increase the
number of batteries from three to 13.
Despite the prohibitive costs, Iron
Dome is worth the expense.
First, it saves lives, which is priceless. In
Jewish tradition anyone who saves a single life is seen as saving an entire
world. Also, the economic damage caused by Kassam and Grad rockets that hit
houses, schools or businesses can easily amount to millions of
What’s more, Iron Dome significantly improves Israel’s
deterrence. Knowing that the vast majority of rockets targeting population
centers will be shot down, Palestinian terrorists are under pressure to fire
more of them. But in order to fire Kassam and Grad rockets, terrorists must
temporarily come out in the open where they are exposed to fire from Israeli
helicopters and planes.
Assuming that the building of a single Kassam
rocket costs about $800, and assuming that Gaza’s economy is significantly less
developed than Israel’s, increasing the number of rockets fired from Gaza could
quickly become very expensive, relatively speaking, for Hamas, Islamic Jihad,
the Popular Resistance Committee and other terrorist groups. And Iron Dome
shoots down only rockets which are slated to hit a populated area or strategic
target. These rockets accounted for just a quarter of those fired at Israel
during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Finally, Israel will be able to
profit from Iron Dome, which has proved itself in combat situations, by selling
it to other countries. NATO, South Korea, India and the US have all shown
Turning a weakness into a strength is an old Jewish trait. In
this context, Iron Dome is an eminently Jewish response to Palestinian