After enduring a decade of rocket attacks from terrorists and the quasi-legitimate Hamas government in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has his country poised for an all out ground war with Palestine.
Israel has come under fire from mortars and rockets from Palestine since it killed Ahmed al-Jarbari, the commander of Hamas’s military arm, earlier this week. Hamas is a militant political movement in Palestine that claims all of Israel to be its territory. For over 10 years, Hamas has been firing home-made rockets from Palestine into the south of Israel, mostly towards smaller cities like Sderot. While some estimates place the number of rockets fired at over 12,000, Israel has undertaken military action only a few times over the past few years relative to the frequency of the attacks.
Israel has, however, taken steps to prevent rocket attacks from succeeding. It’s no secret that Israel has long been targeting leading figures of Hamas – a group they view as a terrorist organization – in bombings and assassinations. One of these assassination missions resulted in the death of al-Jarbari, and others could possibly include the James Bond-esque poisoning of military commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel room in Dubai (though that remains unconfirmed).
Another Israeli tactic that seems straight out of Hollywood is the deployment of a missile defense system called “the Iron Dome.” The Iron Dome consists of mobile interceptor batteries that can fire radar-guided missiles at incoming rockets from Hamas. IDF (Israeli Defense Force) spokespeople have called the Iron Dome a “gamechanger” from past conflicts. From CSM:
Each battery includes a radar detection system, a command and control center, and mobile launchers that can be repositioned as necessary. When a rocket is fired from Gaza, the batteries quickly calculate whether it is headed for a populated area or sensitive target; if so, one of the interceptors is quickly dispatched, at a reported cost of $50,000. If the rocket is headed for an open area, however, no action is taken.
Of the more than 750 rockets fired from Gaza since last week, 245 had been intercepted as of last night. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has not published the number of attempted intercepts, so it is impossible to calculate the exact success rate. But Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Orenas well as Israel’s former director of missile defense, Arieh Herzog, have said that the success rate of attempted intercepts is about 90 percent. That is a significant improvement over the 80 percent rate achieved when the system was first deployed in March 2011.
Israel has called up over 75,000 reservists and mobilized tanks and armor all along the Israeli-Palestinian border in preparation for a possible escalation of the ongoing conflict, should the Iron Dome and targeted airstrikes at Hamas power centers prove insufficient to stop the fighting.
While much of the Arab world supports Hamas (which has deployed missile launchers near schools, homes, and mosques), the United States continues to stand with Israel, and rightly so. Although Palestine and her allies have claimed that the Israeli airstrike that killed al-Jabari warranted a military response from Hamas, it’s fairly clear that Israel has the moral high ground. As one of my Jewish friends explained to me:
“[For Americans, the ongoing missile attacks] would be like if Mexico were to launch rockets that had the potential to endanger 40% of the United States.”
In such a situation, we would almost certainly be authorized to use military force to bring an end to the attacks.
That being said, it’s ridiculous that we still live in a world where innocent people (34 civilians, including at least 12 children, have died in just four days) have to be blown to pieces by rockets and bombs to prove political points. I dearly wish for peace in this situation – but he who wishes for peace must be prepared for war.