'Gov't consistently ignored, downplayed Gaza rocket threat'

In report written by Uzi Rubin, leading missile expert says government's actions led Gaza Strip to become a strategic threat to Israel.

Kassam cradled by terrorist 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Kassam cradled by terrorist 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Israeli governments consistently ignored, downplayed and minimized the rocket threat the country faces from the Gaza Strip, enabling it to grow to what it is today – a strategic threat to the State of Israel, according to a report published Wednesday by a leading Israeli missile expert ahead of the 20th anniversary of the First Gulf War.
The scathing paper, which documents the way governments have dealt with the missile threat from Gaza, is entitled “From Nuisance to Strategic Threat” and was written by Uzi Rubin, the former head of Israel’s Homa Missile Defense Organization. It was published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.
Rubin writes that during his research work for the paper, he was surprised to discover how senior government officials had, for years, downplayed and minimized the severity of the rocket threat from Gaza.
“It appears that for the first three years of the rocket attacks, there was an informal but strong coalition of local and national leaders whose objective was to minimize the threat,” Rubin writes, adding that only once the rocket fire intensified were steps taken, but they were also “slow and ineffective.”
Rubin surveys public remarks made by top officials regarding the missile threat, and found, for example, that Dov Weisglass, a senior aide to prime minister Ariel Sharon, called the rockets “flying objects” that did not affect governmental decision-making processes.
Another example was a comment made by former director-general of the Defense Ministry Kobi Toren, who said in 2006 that the rocket fire from Gaza was a “psychological threat” since it causes few casualties.
Rubin hails the development of the Iron Dome system, which the IDF plans to declare operational in the coming weeks, after numerous delays, but claims that even after it is operational, the current two batteries the military has will not suffice to provide protection for all the residents of the South under rocket fire.
In addition, according to Rubin, Israel’s decision to ask the Obama administration for $205 million to help purchase additional Iron Dome batteries, shows that the IDF has yet to internalize the full rocket threat the country faces from Gaza and Lebanon.
Rubin claims that if Israel had properly evaluated the threat when it began – the first Kassam rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in 2001 – Israeli communities along the border would today be better protected and missile defense systems like Iron Dome, which recently encountered development problems, would be deployed along the border.
According to Rubin, who was one of the founding fathers of the Arrow ballistic missile defense system, Israel had proven missile defense capabilities in 2001 after the first rocket was fired from Gaza.
“It would have made sense that the defense establishment would have made use of these assets to create a solution based on active protection combined with its offensive operations,” Rubin writes. “But this was not the case.”