|Iron Dome. Tylenol?|
11 April '11
Op-ed: Latest strikes on Israel’s south may have been a Hamas ‘dry run’ ahead of next clash
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.
Tough dilemmas ahead
The important decision to develop Iron Dome contradicted the IDF’s view and was taken by then-Defense Minister Amir Peretz. With the passage of time, the army reconciled itself to the system’s existence, and we should take our hats off to RAFAEL and to members of the IDF’s air defense unit for deploying it quickly.
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.
The dilemmas are tough, and the basic product which the army needs to supply is deterrence, so that nobody will dare fire at the State of Israel’s south or north. The IDF’s first mission is to hit the missiles even before they’re launched, at their bases, and to that end the army must preserve its intelligence and operational capabilities. The rockets should be intercepted en route to their targets only should the IDF fail to hit them earlier.
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.
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