Thursday, January 7, 2010

Iron Dome on its Way

The Iron Dome anti-projectile system is ready to be deployed, though the deployment will still take some months.

No other country in the world has such a system, though there will probably be clients for the Israeli one. Will it bring peace and serenity to the Middle East? No. But it's a lot better to have than not to have.

Meanwhile, someone in Gaza has been firing at Israel this morning. Or rather, as usual, they've been firing at trucks waiting to enter Gaza with supplies through the Kerem Shalom crossing:
The Defense Ministry on Thursday closed the Kerem Shalom crossing until further notice. Dozens of aid trucks that were prepared to deliver humanitarian supplies to Gaza were waiting at the crossing Thursday morning, Israel Radio reported.


Victor said...

The technological leap is substantial, however, the interceptors Iron Dome uses are $30,000 each.

A much cheaper option for lower threat projectiles is the Phalanx system.

Note also that no matter how you slice it, hot shrapnel laced with toxic rocket fuel will fall from the sky. This argument is already being made by Israel haters to prevent to discredit any "humanitarian"/"just war" aspect of its deployment.

In other words, how dare Israel defend itself.

NormanF said...

A missile defense system presents a deterrent. It raises the costs to the enemy of future aggression. It won't be 100% effective but even 90% protection is better than none at all. And still better than another Goldstone censure.

Gavin said...

It surprises me, and worries me, that people just can't appreciate how significant a development this is. Intifada excepted Israel has had only three major wars since 1973, and the catalyst for all of those wars was one thing. Rockets.

You can't defend against rockets so you've had to attack the source of them. Hizbollah can't hurt Israel with any kind of conventional military attack, but they can make you attack them any time they please by launching a rocket barrage. That's their strategy, to make you repeat Lebanon 2006 only on a larger scale & one which they're much better prepared for.

Iron Dome will negate the threat of Iran. If Hamas or Hizbollah can't force you to attack them directly with ground forces then they can pose no serious threat to you. Border skirmishes may continue but they can be contained. It is that significant, people need to see it from the other sides perspective.

Iran will be watching the development of Iron Dome with serious alarm. The real question is, will it precipitate another war before Iron Dome is fully deployed. I really wish they'd stop the reckless & needless progress announcements.

Seriously folks, ask yourself... without rockets what can Hizbollah, Hamas or even Iran do to you? The cost of Iron Dome is a pittance compared to the cost of a war.

Danny said...

To Gavin's point, a major risk of an Israeli attack on iranian nuclear facilities is the unleashing of Hamas/Hizballah rockets. Once that threat is neutralized this year, less threat of homefront attack when Israel confronts Iran. It's a key to the puzzle. This still leaves the option of a chemical/biological threat - but those weapons can be very risky for Hiz/Hamas, a change in wind direction and they could wind up targeting themselves. So hence, leaving the major threat of nuclear weapons just so unacceptable.

This Is Hell said...

Of course the maniacs in the west will simply lie and lie and lie and call it an offensive weapon. After a few hundred thousand repetitions of that, that will become the new fact. You can bet that Hamas will announce that (of course) the interceptors are made of Uranium-Phosphorus-baby organs and what not and 10 thousand 'liberal' bloggers will cite that as fact.

Gavin said...

I'm not keen on seeing a nuclear armed Iran Danny but I also can't see it helping Iran against Israel either. The problem with having nuclear weapons is that if you ever launch a missile capable of carrying such a weapon you'll invite like retaliation whether that weapon is nuclear armed or not. A nuclear armed Iran would never be able to launch a conventional rocket at Israel, their entire ballistic missile arsenal will have been made effectively useless for all but an end game.

Add to that the risk that their rockets may not make it through Israels defences, but the incoming retaliation will get through... and Iran won't really be gaining any advantage over Israel by being nuclear armed. Makes it worse for them really, their own existence comes under threat then too. On top of that Israels small size is a big asset, any fallout would affect all the neighbours as well so that's a big deterrent there alone.

The thought of a nuclear armed Iran is very scary, but it is difficult to imagine a practical scenario where it is genuine threat to Israel. Irans leaders aren't prone to suicide, they've led the good life too long.

My own thoughts were that if Iran did reach the stage of a nuclear test it would occur in Syria, because Syria is the one who needs a nuclear deterrent against Israel.

Victor said...

Is this a substantial development? Yes. Will it influence Hezbollah and Hamas thinking? Yes. Will it end war? Hahaha.

We all know that Hamas and Hezbollah will find another way to kill Israelis, and nothing Israel can do, short of killing every enemy combatant, will ever stop that.

Bravo to the Israeli engineers who overcame a major design challenge. We should not delude ourselves, however, that technology can resolve this war, or that the use of technology makes war more humane in the future. What is humane is to end the war, not to make it palatable.

Jon said...

Questionable if they'll find another way to kill Israelis - hell so far they've killed like 20 using the rockets. The reason for concern is that they made the lives of about 26,000 people living hell, and another who knows how many pretty scary as well. Now we've eliminated even that. Give us back Shalit, and they have literally nothing left on us except lawfare.

That's their problem. We have a LOT that they want, and they honestly have very little we want. Shalit and the rockets are the only weapons I can think of.

Victor said...

Jon, this is pure hubris. We're spending $30,000 to defend against a rocket costing in the hundreds of dollars to manufacture. The enemy can impose a war on us at will, one which we pay disproportionately for in resources. This may be containment, but it is not victory.

Furthermore, what's to say that countermeasures cannot be employed to defeat Iron Dome by confusing the radar or terminal seeker with chaff? What about employing chemical weapons which, when ignited by collision with the interceptor, will do more damage? The Iranians and Palestinians also have engineers. If they want to kill Jews, they will always find a way to do it.

Remember that Shalit was captured by a tunnel dug under the Gaza barrier. What's to stop more tunnels from being dug into Israel to launch yet more attacks?

We are talking about a tiny piece of territory, 10 miles by 30 miles. If rockets spread to the West Bank, and they will, eventually, this idea of sanitized defense will die quite quickly.

Anonymous said...

Consider the context. I suspect that the firing at the crossings is meant to put pressure on Egypt. First Hamas forces Israel to close the crossings. Then it claims that the Gazans are starving, and therefore that the Egyptians' steel wall is cruel and inhumane.

In other words, it's "bs as usual" for Hamas.

In the past, some of the mortar fire against the crossings was blamed on smuggling gangs that wanted to increase the prices for their smuggled goods by choking off goods flowing from Israel. At other times, Gazan terror groups that felt that they were being ignored by Hamas attacked Israel in order to prove that they were relevant.

The motives of Gazan terror groups are often very different from what is portrayed in the mass media.

Anonymous said...

can't the Iron Dome evolve into a sales hit and thus pay for itself? Military camps all over the world (Iraq, Afghanistan, Green Zone) could be made safer that way and maybe one could scare inhabitants of affluent gated communities the world over into believing that urban warfare is imminent?

But of course before such a wide distribution can be envisaged really wonderful engineers would have to come up with something that made any attempt at copying self-destructive.

And do not underdestimate the value of making it harder for the enemy. At a minimum it buys time and while there is time anything may happen.

As to the leaders of Iran not being suicidal due to love of the good life - I do not buy it. When suicide is fashionable the imagined glory of it is capable of crowding out all other considerations. (I've grown up in post-war Germany and as I remember suicide and suicidal action was still talked about with love and admiration - there is no limit to how the human mind can distort itself or be distorted)

rgds, Silke

Gavin said...

Maybe I'm just guilty of groundless alarmism here folks but I came to a conclusion about Iran some 5-6 years ago and that view really hasn't changed much. Maybe I should throw it open for discussion so I can either get rid of the notion or confirm it;

To my mind Israel is under two types of threats; the threat to individual Jews through terror attacks and the existential threat to the Jewish state itself. The joker in the pack is Iran. They haven't invested massive sums in Lebanon & Gaza just to kill a few Jews. They want to destroy the Jewish state. The Persians are a smart bunch and they must have a strategy for how they believe they can achieve the destruction of Israel. Hamas and Hizbollah are Iranian proxies and their actions have to be considered in the context of working within the framework of an existing Iranian plan.

So just what is Iran's strategy for defeating Israel? This is the most obvious to me and fits in with the actions of the parties involved;

Heavily fortify Gaza & Sth Lebanon (bunkers, anti-tank, roadside bombs, defences in civilian areas etc)
Stock them full of rockets
Provoke Israel into launching large-scale ground assaults on both Gaza & Lebanon simultaneously with barrages of rockets on Israeli cities.
Draw IDF forces into towns & cities, concentrate on reducing IDF armour & other materiel through anti-tank, booby traps etc.
Foment an intifada in the West Bank, committing more Israeli troops to the fray on three fronts.
Wear Israel down through attrition & street fighting, stretch the supply line in Lebanon by drawing them further in
At the appropriate moment, when Israel is fully committed & stretched thin with resources running down, the (fresh) Syrian army to launch a conventional attack on Israel proper

It's a simple plan with a reasonable chance of success if implemented properly. It exploits Israels prime weakness of limited numbers & resources. A Syria armed with a nuclear deterrent would complete the picture. This may not be a plan, but I still can't escape the conclusion that's what Iran has been working towards and I have held that view for some 5yrs. Lebanon 2006 & Gaza 2009 just upset the timetable.

My take is that a sucessfully deployed Iron Dome won't be defeating just the rockets, it will be wrecking your enemies plans for destroying Israel. Which is why I get concerned about premature stories of Iron Dome. Am I just wildly speculating or does that make sense?


Barry Meislin said...

Gavin, you're absolutely right.

But then some say the Lord works in mysterious ways....

Yaacov said...

Hi Gavin -

I'm offline today with no real time to respond, but I'd say your basic premise is correct: Iran is operating on many tracks to obliterate Israel. If they've got a detailed plan, I doubt, but they've got the intention and the determination, and they'll play it be ear.