Friday, January 8, 2010

Another Israeli Miracle - Operation Iron Dome

Just when you think Israel's back is to the proverbial wall, a combination of willpower, initiative, technical expertise and pure chutzpah combine to radically alter the strategic landscape.  While the dangers from Iran are no less existential, recent analyses indicate that the internal turmoil has taken its toll on the state's nuclear program, along with other setbacks and possible sabotage.  Meanwhile the world (save perhaps the Chinese) seems to be coalescing on sanctions as the best route to take at the moment, as opportunities for engagement have not materialized.

Meanwhile, perhaps the most important news coming out of Israel this week has not received an iota of attention in the American press. "Operation Iron Dome," marked the successful test firing of defensive missiles designed to shoot down incoming short range rockets.  As Marc Shulman commented in his daily analysis, the successful deployment of these missiles will fundamentally change Israel's strategic position with Hezbollah and Hamas. 

After the last war it became clear that only a rapid insertion of ground troops could stop missile fire. It was also clear Israel had been planning based on that difficult scenario in case of war. With Iron Dome in place, the Israeli government will have the luxury of time to decide how to respond. The government has to to decide, of course, how many batteries and missiles to purchase. It really should not be a difficult decision. It is estimated that each missile costs approximately $10,000 (not including the launch battery and radar). In Israel's last war with Lebanon, Hezbollah launched 4,000 rockets at Israel (of which 25% landing in populated areas.) That means it would take approximately $10,000,000 to buy the 1,000 launchers necessary. Considering the amount of purely physical damage done by the rocket attacks, not to mention the value of human life damaged or lost, it seems an extremely good investment-- even if Israel needs to buy 5 times that amount. A much better investment than buying new gas masks for the entire country. One word on the development of the system... It was developed by the Israeli government arms company "Rafael", and completed in two years. Completing the system in such a short time frame was an accomplishment many said was impossible. Certainly in this day, when it seems to take the US 10 years to develop a new weapons system, this is a remarkable accomplishment. Israel now has the only two deployable weapons systems in the world to defend against incoming missiles: the "Chetz" for long range missiles and the "Iron Dome" for short-range missiles. Israeli is currently developing a third system for intermediate range missiles.

Another Israeli miracle?  I recommend a book I've been reading, Start Up Nation: Israel's Economic Miracle.  Read that and you'll understand that miracles like this come from a combination of factors - but they are remarkable nonetheless.


Anonymous said...

This shows how serious a country like Israel is about defending itself vs. this country which implements a lot of bells and whistles but not much else

Anonymous said...

I propose that Beth El establish a fund to raise money to contribute to the purchase of defensive missiles for Israel. Sort of like the fund the Canadian synagogue used to collect money to ransom Syrian Jews. Short of enlisting in Tzahal, I can't think of a better way to help protect Israel and our Israeli family.