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ISRAELIS WELCOME DEPLOYMENT OF IRON DOME
Jerusalem Post, March 28, 2011
Zmira Almog quietly arranges a bouquet of flowers in her shop on the main road of Beersheba, Israel’s largest city in the south and latest target for rockets fired by the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, the Israeli Air Force deployed for the first time home-grown anti-rocket technology giving residents a sense of security and sending what Israeli leaders say is a deterrence message that rocket attacks will be dealt with a firm hand.
“I am happy,” Almog says. “I believe this is going to give us a sense of security. I hope that it works. I hope that we won’t need to use it and it won’t be necessary, but I have a better sense.”
The rocket shield is called Iron Dome and its first battery was deployed on the dunes on the outskirts of Beersheba facing Gaza.… Residents of this city of close to 200,000 residents have put pressure on the government to deploy the Iron Dome shield as quickly as possible—and a little faster than the army would like—after two Grad-type rockets slammed into the city last week, injuring one person.
Over the past two weeks, since the border between Israel and Gaza heated up, some 100 rockets and mortar shells have hit Israel.… While Hamas says its rockets are aimed at military installations, nearly all of them land in civilian areas.…
The new defense system, developed by the state-owned Rafael defense industries, is designed to knock down incoming rockets at a range of four to 70 kilometers. The multi-mission radar of each battery is supposed to lock in on incoming rockets and send out a firing sequence to one of its three launchers, each equipped with 20 interceptors.
“Iron Dome is a very capable system, but on the other hand it is important to highlight that we are in the evaluation phase in the operational sites,” says Brig.-Gen. Doron Gavish, commander of Israel’s air defenses. “Today we are trying to accelerate the operational tests in order to be ready as fast as we can.…”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned during his weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday that Iron Dome wouldn’t be the only defense against Palestinian rocket attacks. “I don’t want to create an illusion that the Iron Dome system, which we are deploying for the first time today, will provide a full or comprehensive response,” Netanyahu said. “The real response to the missile threat is in the combination of offensive and deterrent measures with defensive measures, and with a firm stance by the government and public.”
Israeli media reports said that a second Iron Dome battery, which is mounted on mobile trailers, was to be deployed near the coastal city of Ashkelon, another recent target of Palestinian rocket attacks.
The home-made Kassam rockets used by Hamas and other Gaza militants have been gradually upgraded over the years.… As the rockets’ ranges and force have grown, so has the threat. Where once the rockets launched from Gaza were capable of reaching targets within a few kilometers inside Israel, a thinly populated area of farms and open stretches, today the army fears that millions of Israeli civilians are within rocket range, even if Hamas hasn’t employed its most sophisticated arms.
Iron Dome’s value to Israel extends beyond the contest with Hamas. To its north, the Lebanese Shi’ite movement, Hezbollah, is believed to have a far larger and more lethal arsenal of missiles. In Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah, thousands of missiles rained down on the country’s north, forcing a third of the country into bomb shelters during the month-long conflict.
Each Iron Dome battery reportedly costs some $50 million and each interception costs some $25,000, a hefty sum considering that the incoming rockets cost just a few-hundred dollars to produce. But Gavish says the cost shouldn’t be measured missile-for-rocket, but by considering the damage a rocket could cause if it hit a school, hospital or heavily trafficked street. “It’s more important to understand if you didn’t shoot something down, what would it hit?” he says. “This is a unique system. There is no other system in the world that shoots missiles against rockets.…
Despite [Gavish’s] confidence, some residents of Beersheba remain ill at ease. “It’s not going to help 100%. If they fire 10 at one time, okay, maybe they’ll intercept four. What about the other six?” asks Nisso Kfir, owner of a small accessories store in the city, who says the Grad rocket that hit last week landed just 100 meters from his house. “The best protection is to attack. Attack is the best defense.”
But his neighbor Yigal Bar-Eli says his spirits have been boosted by the deployment of the Iron Dome battery to protect his city. “This will really help the residents of Beersheba, so that next time there’s something like this, it will be able to stop it. It gives us a good feeling and sense of security,” Bar-Eli says.
Sgt. Nadav, an operator of one of the launchers who can only be identified by his first name under army policy, is optimistic that the interceptors will work and is itching to test it on a real incoming rocket. “It feels good to know that the citizens of Israel depend on us and to know that we can help them against something that is not real easy to protect them from,” he says. “I’ve seen the experiments and I’ve seen how it works. It works pretty well.”
IRON DOME’S PARTIAL ANSWER
Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2011
The Iron Dome mobile short-range missile defense system was described by one Ashkelon resident who saw it in action over the weekend as something “straight out of a science fiction movie.” Another local man told Army Radio Sunday, “We saw it launched. It was amazing.”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the successful operational debut of Iron Dome in the last few days “an extraordinary achievement for the IDF.”
Such superlatives are justified. Over the weekend, the Iron Dome counter-rocket defense system intercepted 10 Katyusha and Kassam rockets fired by Hamas in the direction of Ashkelon and Beersheba, the two locations where batteries of the short-range missile defense system are stationed.
The rockets were literally shot out of the air just seconds after being launched at innocent Israeli civilians.
These initial successes have silenced quite a few naysayers who had been critical of Iron Dome in the less than five years since then defense minister Amir Peretz decided to begin its development in the wake of the Second Lebanon War—when hundreds of Hezbollah’s Katyushas rained down on northern Israel.
Much fuss was made of the expense of the system.… Concerns were raised that Hamas and other Islamist terrorists in Gaza would launch a war of economic attrition on Israel: Assuming each Grad, Kassam or mortar shell costs just a few hundred to a few thousands dollars, heavy, relentless fire could require Israel to launch large numbers of costly Iron Dome intercepts. Those financial worries are valid, but the critics’ main assertion was that the system wouldn’t work.
Plainly, it does.
Along with the obvious fact that life is priceless, implementation of Iron Dome will actually have numerous economic and tactical benefits.
First, it can help prevent the expensive destruction of property. The Hamas mortar shell that destroyed a chicken coop in Kibbutz Nir Oz over the weekend is just one small example of the tremendous damage wreaked by Hamas’s various projectiles.… Secondly, the knowledge that residents of the south are, relatively, a little bit safer as a consequence of Iron Dome could provide the IDF with valuable time to carefully plan counter-offensives when barrages of rockets are launched from Gaza. Finally, the fact that Hamas and like-minded terrorists forced the Iron Dome into an earlier-than-planned deployment has meant that it is already battle-tested. Proving its efficacy in Ashkelon, Beersheba and other southern towns will make Iron Dome an attractive defense product. Singapore and America have already shown an interest in the Israel Aerospace Industries’ technology.…
For all of their science fiction-like capabilities, neither Iron Dome nor any other Israeli innovation goes to the heart of the problem the current escalation exemplifies, which is Islamists’ unrelenting blind hatred for the Jewish state and for those who live in it. Unfortunately…the Jewish people have little if any control over the hatred directed against them. But Jews do manage to make the best of the circumstances. Iron Dome is a perfect example.
ISRAELI PRIDE IN THE SKIES
Ynet News, April 12, 2011
What is the price of the personal sense of security felt by hundreds of thousands of southern residents, the feeling of solidarity, and the recognition that the State wants to and is capable of caring for its citizen? As it turns out, the price is much lower than we expected. And even if it’s still high, it’s worth every penny.
The Iron Dome anti-rocket system is emerging as an incredible success story. It’s also a top notch proof that we haven’t lost it: The spark, the initiative, and the abilities. We haven’t lost the human resource, and the Jewish genius.…
The sight of Iron Dome intercepting a missile fired at one of our southern cities is among the most pleasant and inspiring spectacles we’ve seen around [Israel] in recent years. At times like this we are allowed to cast cynicism aside and say “yes, we’re proud.” [We can take passing comfort in] an emotion that has almost been forgotten—national pride—[and rejoice in the fact that] our defense industry [has] the ability to build a sophisticated, life-saving system that functions without killing innocents.
We don’t get to enjoy many pleasurable moments like that, certainly not as of late. We are used to waking up to mornings that give rise to stories of corruption rather than success. We learned to bow our heads in the face of failure rather than to be excited by victory. So many times we appeared to be a Third World country; a banana republic. What’s more, a long time ago we lost the faith that there is someone here taking care of us.…
Within this landscape of disappointments, failures and mistrust, the Iron Dome story is an exception.… This achievement has, first and foremost, immense psychological significance that is no less important than the military implications: It means that finally we are doing something for our own sake. Not because of defeatism and not because we are following someone else’s orders.… Rather, we initiated this project and assumed responsibility for our own fate. We did it based on the understanding that a State that does not care [for] its own citizens cannot expect someone else to.
So Iron Dome may not provide 100% protection to southern residents, and we may need many more batteries to secure this objective.… Yet for the first time in many years there is a feeling here that this State is functioning after all. That despite all, we have strong minds and thinking people here. And that maybe all is not lost.
PREPARING FOR THE BIG GAME
Ynet News, April 11, 2011
The anti-rocket Iron Dome system turned into a source of national pride the other day, and rightfully so. No politician would miss out the photo opportunity next to the IDF’s air defense troops in Ashkelon who intercepted eight out of the nine rockets fired at the southern city.
However, at the end of the day we must keep in mind that Iron Dome is still no more than a Tylenol in the face of a grave illness. A moment before we are blinded by Iron Dome’s incredible operational success, we must remember that the defense establishment only has two Iron Dome batteries. Even if officials decide to immediately purchase four more batteries, they will be here two years from now, at best.
Until that time, we must also keep in mind that Hezbollah possesses some 50,000 rockets and Hamas has another 10,000. If we take into account the fact that Iron Dome has another original mission—safeguarding vital sites, such as army bases and strategic facilities, at times of emergency—it’s clear that we should keep everything in proportion.
The success of Iron dome merits some pride, but it is not a cause for celebration.… Those in the know view the latest round of fighting in the south as a sort of “dry run” by Hamas. The rockets fired at Ashkelon and Beersheba may have been designated, among other things, to examine Iron Dome’s performance and draw some lessons ahead of the next, bigger round.
The Iranians are also monitoring developments and have a good reason for doing so—they are doing it ahead of the big game which everyone knows is only a matter of time. When the time comes, decision-makers here will face the dilemma of whether to protect Ben-Gurion Airport, Israeli towns, our refineries, or Air Force bases—while we’re short on Iron Dome batteries.…
And so, until the next big round, we should ask our politicians to forgo the Iron Dome photo ops, and instead approve the acquisition of many batteries, while simultaneously boosting our deterrent power.
THOSE FIENDISH JEWS AND THEIR LIFE-SAVING INNOVATIONS
Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2011
Those fiendish Jews. They are making it so hard for us to kill them. They pulled every last father, mother and child out of the Gaza Strip, where we could get at them easily. They pulled their army out too. Every last tank, every last soldier. The only one we’ve got here now is Gilad Schalit.
Some of them thought that this might sate our ambitions. Idiots. They thought the “international community” would give us hell if we carried on trying to kill them. Fools. Of course we weren’t going to stop, and of course no one was going to stop us. We won’t stop till we’ve terrorized them all the way out of Palestine. And it’s not like we’re making any secret of that; it’s all there in our charter.
But, heaven help us, they don’t shift easily. And they do value life. Even our people’s. We make sure our fighters are surrounded by women and children before we open fire. We make sure our fighters are indistinguishable from civilians; no uniforms for us. And still those Jews insist on holding their return fire unless they can be reasonably sure they’ll only kill our men. Unbelievable: We’re doing everything we can to get our ordinary people killed, and they’re doing everything they can not to kill them. What kind of upside-down world is this?…
And as for their lives? Like I said, it’s just getting harder and harder to kill them. They have early-warning systems and alarms and bomb shelters and safe rooms and protective concrete cubes and fantastic, heroic medical services. Just imagine, if we adopted those kinds of measures, we’d have none of our people killed, and then where would we be?
Come to think of it, we wouldn’t need to adopt any of those measures if we just stopped shooting at them. It’s not as though they’d shoot first. But if we stopped firing, how could we complain to the world about those vicious Zionist enemies? How could we keep the UN and the rest of those suckers on our side? How could we keep the Jew-hatred at fever pitch among our people? How could we serve our noble, bloody cause?
But, damn them and their clever innovations.… Now they’ve come up with this “Iron Dome” gadget. In a million years, we didn’t think it would work. They’re going to fire rockets at our rockets and shoot them out of the sky? Yeah, right. This isn’t Xbox or PlayStation. Last time I looked, it was a pretty big sky out there.
But bless my soul, they’ve managed it. Ten of our rockets blasted out of the air in the past two days alone. Nauseating. We were sure we’d have some meaty kills out of those salvoes. I mean, it’s not even supposed to be working properly yet; it’s still in the experimental stage; the Israeli media were laughing at its developers; they were certain it was useless.
Sometimes, I swear, I start to wonder if God’s on their side. Crazy, huh? I don’t know what’s getting into me. But look at the evidence: This weekend we had a Grad land near a kibbutz administration building. We got one right next to a school in Ofakim. Not a single fatality. A few minutes earlier on Thursday, we might have had a bus full of schoolkids near Kibbutz Sa’ad. But no, they got off just before we hit that bright yellow, sitting-duck target, and all we got was one teenager and the driver.
What? What’s that you say? Put the weapons away? Internalize the sanctity of human life?
That’s ridiculous talk. Next you’ll be telling me to make peace with them. To acknowledge that they have the right to live here. To build a state alongside theirs. To give our people a better future. To turn our attention away from war and violence and death and killing, toward something productive.
Never, I tell you. Never.