rocket attack on israel

Rockets have emerged as weapon of choice for non-state actors engaging in asymmetric warfare with the state of Israel. Their salience in discussion of Israel’s security and the safety of Israelis are a testament to the strategic effectiveness.

Israel has secured military superiority in the Levant over most symmetrical forms of warfare -- Be it air force, naval power, tanks or infantry. In addition to this, most anti-Israel non-state actors are now external threats. They do not reside in the same territory as Israel, since the withdrawal from Gaza and Southern Lebanon. This has created a strategic demand for terrorist organizations to both be able to cheaply and realistically strike Israel, and force Israel to enter external territory to restore guerilla effectiveness. Rockets have proven to meet these criteria.

Both Hamas and Hezbollah maintain large stockpiles of ballistic rockets, in addition to mortars, anti-tank missiles, and other munitions. While Hamas does have Iranian-made weaponry, a significant amount of its arsenal has historically been indigenously made, as a result of the ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip. Hamas has produced several types of rockets, notably the Qassam series. Hezbollah’s stockpile has in the past consisted of former Soviet models, including Grads and Katyushas, but like Hamas now has Iranian made heavy and long distance rockets like the Fajr series. Estimates of Hezbollah rocket stockpiles vary from 150,000-200,000, while Hamas’ is estimated to be around 10,000. 

Rockets are unguided and are often aimed at Israeli population centers. They’re indiscriminate in their targeting. The rockets vary in range, with the longer distance rockets being in shorter supply, but the range from Gaza is ordinarily up to Tel Aviv, and Hezbollah rockets can reach just about all of Israel. Rocket damage to infrastructure and property has cost Israel billions of dollars. Repeated rocket fire has led to some Israeli, especially those in the Gaza periphery, suffering from PTSD. 

To combat rocket attacks, Israel has developed several measures. Firstly, it has invested in home and communal bomb shelters. This is complimented by the Red Alert system that notifies residents of incoming rocket fire. Israel has also developed an anti-rocket defense system, the Iron Dome. Iron Dome provides significant protection to Israel, but large salvos can overwhelm it, and the platform has limited interceptor missiles and is costly. Due to this, in Gaza conflicts, Israel seeks to destroy terrorist rocket infrastructure, such as ammo dumps, launchers, internal tunnel/transport systems, rocket crews, intelligence sites, observation posts, and command and control capabilities.

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