Iron Dome 311.
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The technological achievement that took the original Iron Dome concept from the
drawing board to a deployable multi-tested anti-missile system is remarkable –
the latest in the impressive collection of feathers in the caps of Israel’s
innovative scientists and defense industries.
Within a few months,
batteries of anti-missile missiles are to be positioned in vulnerable
Gaza-vicinity communities to protect them against indiscriminate rocketry fired
from the Hamas bastion. The various towns are already competing hard to make
sure they will be adequately covered.
That said, nobody promises that the
Iron Dome will offer absolute protection. Even what is touted may well
the system’s practical capabilities.
Earlier in the week, it passed its
final operational tests with flying colors, but real life is a whole
(as Israelis may remember from the disappointing performance, to put it
of the Patriots in the First Gulf War).
Deputy Defense Minister Matan
Vilna’i candidly admits that the Iron Dome cannot intercept all Gazan
and that Israeli communities will remain menaced. Nevertheless he is
that 80 percent of incoming projectiles can be foiled. But can they?
optimistic Vilna’i notes that Iron Dome cannot be deployed everywhere
have to be installed according to “operational requirements.”
and assorted primitive hardware, however, are highly maneuverable, and
be scant intelligence as to when someone will fire them or from
Hence, unless every inch of the western Negev is covered 24/7,
it’s unrealistic to expect even an 80% success rate. For how can even
learned assessments keep up with roving Kassam crews? Adding to the
is the fact that some of the communities under Kassam threat are too
the borderline for sufficient warning time. The Iron Dome system
seconds to identify an incoming Kassam. But incoming rockets can (and
the past) hit their targets after being airborne for shorter durations.
Dome, furthermore, doesn’t offer protection against mortars.
Last but not
least, there’s the sticky issue of footing the bill. The popular mantra
no price is too high to save lives, which – considered strictly on the
plane – is indisputable. Keep in mind, though, that it costs next to
manufacture a Kassam and that Hamas may have many scores of thousands of
rockets stored in its arsenals.
One single Iron Dome anti-missile missile
Clearly, firing against any flying object from Gaza could
wreak havoc with the already slashed IDF budget. The army, likewise,
want to squander all available Iron Dome batteries in a short time and
remain helpless until more come down the production lines.
counter-argument is that only Kassams that threaten defined communities
downed. But such calculations are far from foolproof.
It isn’t always
possible to forecast where a Kassam will hit. If not every Gaza
targeted by the Iron Dome, there’s no telling what the Kassam that is
down can destroy.
IT IS imperative that Israelis are keenly aware of all
of the above, in order to shatter the dangerous delusion that a magical,
defensive panacea exists to the Kassam and mortar threat from Gaza. Such
delusions can become addictive. And when the magic is exposed, the
can be all the deeper.
Let there be no mistake – technologically, again,
the Iron Dome is a stellar achievement that holds great promise. It may
short of constituting a major deterrent, yet it could help render the
less attractive mode of terrorizing Israelis. But its contribution to
Israel, though potentially valuable, should not be exaggerated.
Dome underscores Israel’s ongoing technological superiority in the
it can buy us time. Unfortunately, it cannot hermetically seal our
can it replace traditional battlefield offensives to take out terror
across the lines.