Iron Dome, one more safety ‘solution’ proving false

iron dome ashkelonThe most highlighted Israeli weapon system used in the war last week is the newly developed Iron Dome anti-missile system against short-range rockets and mortars. When first used in 2011, the system’s success-rate was said to be 70%; at present Israel claims it is 80-85%. Of the 737 rockets fired from Gaza upon Israel in the first 3 days of conflict, 245 were intercepted by the Iron Dome system (which only intercepts when a rocket is aiming at populated areas). The system is now widely praised in the military press for protecting Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities. It is has also contributed to its export potential. The United States, South Korea and several NATO countries in Europe have already shown serious interest in the system.

The development of the Rafael-produced Iron Dome has been heavily sponsored by the United States, which allocated a total of $275 million. Each Iron Dome battery costs $50 million, a missile some $50-60,000, still relatively inexpensive in the military context.

The system is said to be a ‘game changer’ in the way the war has been waged. Under the protection of Iron Dome, the Israeli military was able to attack some 1,400 ‘targets’ throughout Gaza during operation Pillar of Defense without having to send in ground troops as during operation Cast Lead (many targets being civilians, many targets being children). “We haven’t yet squeezed out the full effectiveness” a former top Israeli military commander told the military press. “If conditions allow us another two or three days of intensified and punishing standoff attacks, we should be able to end this without getting back into Gaza.”

The protection and safety provided to Israel by Iron Dome turned out to be limited however when a bom exploded in a Tel Aviv bus. Notwithstaning the hurray stories about the Iron Dome system, in the end there is no safety to gain from ever more sophisticated weapon systems.

According to the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Israel tops the list of the world’s most militarised nations. But will this bring safety? The only safety for Israel is when it starts to talk. Talk with Hamas, and talk with the Iranian friends of Hamas. When no steps are made in the direction of negotiations, the war will last forever.

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