Introduction – Nov 24, 2012
As we’ve pointed out, the recent conflict in Gaza was hardly a success for Israel’s Iron Dome defence system. Despite what Israeli politicians may say or how the corporate media portrays it, on the final day of conflict Iron Dome suddenly revealed yawning gaps in its defensive coverage.
It’s true that initially Israeli commanders were reporting the systems success rate in neutralising incoming munitions at around 85%. What the following report pointedly omits to mention however, is that on the final day of the recent conflict that interception rate dropped dramatically.
From an 85% success rate in the opening days of the conflict Iron Dome’s success rate in neutralising incoming fire fell to little more than 20% on the final day.
It’s still uncertain as to what caused this precipitous decline. It may have been a change in Palestinian tactics or maybe Hamas found a way evade anti-missile fire, but whatever it was Israel suddenly agreed to terms on the very day that Iron Dome’s success rate declined so suddenly.
It may even have been behind Israel’s finally agreeing to a ceasefire, after days of delay.
While Israeli politicians publicly laud Iron Dome as a “game-changer” they have pointedly ignored its failing on the final day of conflict. Whether intentional or not, this could lure Israelis into a dangerous over-confidence over the system’s defensive capability.
Indeed, that may be the intention.
Netanyahu may be banking on Iron Dome to allay fears about an Iranian counter-strike, to allow him to order strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Whatever caused the sudden lapse in its capability, Netanyahu’s playing a dangerous game of bluff if he thinks he can use Iron Dome to allay Israeli fears about striking Iran.
Netanyahu’s gamble could ultimately result in the sacrifice of many lives.
With eye on Iran Gaza conflict reassures Netanyahu
Crispian Balmer – Reuters Nov 23, 2012
Both on the diplomatic and military front, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will draw some comfort from his offensive against Gaza as he switches his gaze once more to his main strategic challenge – Iran.
Israel views Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat in a totally different league to the problems posed by the Islamist group Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu fears a nuclear-armed Iran could one day eradicate Israel and has promised that Tehran will not get the bomb should he win a third term in office in elections on January 22.
In the meantime, he has just ended an eight-day offensive against Hamas with the aim of halting rocket fire out of the coastal Palestinian territory into southern Israel.
Six Israelis and 163 Palestinians died in the fighting before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect on Wednesday, ending a localized, asymmetric conflict that looked very different to any potential war with Iran.
“You cannot compare the Gaza Strip to any other military environment, which makes it unwise to describe what has happened there as a rehearsal for attacking Iran,” said Uzi Eilam, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.
Nonetheless, the Israeli military inflicted serious blows to Hamas’s weapons arsenal, much of it sourced from Iran, and showed the world that it has cutting-edge technology, particularly when it comes to missile defense.
Israel says its new Iron Dome interceptors knocked out 421 incoming rockets from Gaza, scoring an 84 percent success rate. Without it, there would have been much more destruction and a significantly higher death toll.
Analysts here believe this will worry Iran’s main ally in the region, the Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, which is based in neighboring Lebanon and is estimated to have anywhere up to 60,000 rockets pointing across Israel’s northern border.
Netanyahu has suggested he might attack Iran if diplomacy and international sanctions fail to halt its nuclear progress. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful, and if war breaks out Israelis fear Hezbollah might leap into the fray.
Politicians say the Iron Dome gives Israel an advantage.
“The Iron Dome has proved itself to be a game changer … and has undoubtedly lessened the threat of Hezbollah,” said Yohanan Plesner, an opposition member of parliament who sits on the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee.
The fact Israel weathered some 1,500 short-to-medium range rockets from Gaza with relative ease was savored by the country’s leaders, who, for once, were not clamoring for an committee of enquiry following a major military enterprise.
“We have moved light years ahead in recent years, both in terms of preparation, instructions to the people, the whole way the municipalities operate,” Plesner told Reuters.