The Iron Dome's Not Magic, but It's Preferable to War

Israel has the right to defend its citizens in the south, and deter more attacks; inasmuch as possible, it's better to do so via defensive measures.

Palestinian organizations bear the brunt of responsibility for the escalation of recent days in the Gaza region. This blame extends to Hamas, whose local military leadership does not uphold the desires of its political leadership in Gaza and Damascus, and also to smaller factions, including Islamic Jihad. These groups are trying to harm the IDF; and when their frustration about the lack of military targets rises, they recklessly take aim at civilian targets, including small communities and school buses. That is a war crime.

Dealing with the Palestinian attacks, Israel should coolly consider its actions. It cannot condone assaults against civilians in general, or children in particular. Nor can it become reconciled with the disruption of daily routines in a strip of land that continues to expand, as the range of missiles and weapons systems grows. Yet Israel should take measured steps, and strive to restore the state of relative quiet.

Since last Thursday, a new chapter has opened in the history of conflict between offense and defense in border wars - not only the conflict between Israelis and Arabs, Palestinians and Lebanese. The success of air defense systems in intercepting Grad missiles reduces the feeling of helpless vulnerability that civilians and soldiers have felt since the 1960s, when Katyusha missiles gradually became the PLO's favored weapon, first on the East Bank of the Jordan River in attacks on the Jordan Valley and Beit She'an, and later from Lebanon in attacks on the Galilee. Eventually, such missile attacks were adopted by Hezbollah, and by Hamas and its confederates in Gaza for attacks on the Negev, if not areas north of the Negev, in the center of Israel.

Without a method of defense against indirect fire, Israel was forced to engage in costly and problematic land operations, in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. The security establishment and the government scoffed at proposals to develop systems to intercept rockets. Only the shock caused by the barrage of Hezbollah rockets in 2006 spurred the defense establishment and the government to action, and the results of this are being seen right now, four and a half years later.

Iron Dome is not a wonder-drug solution. Its deployment is extremely expensive, and there are not enough of this anti-missile system. But each Grad that fails to reach Ashkelon or Be'er Sheva reduces the chances that the Netanyahu government will launch, for dubious reasons, another ground campaign like Operation Cast Lead.

Israel has the right to defend its citizens in the south, and deter more attacks. Inasmuch as possible, it's better to do so via defensive measures.