Monday, August 26, 2013

Iron Dome has curbed Palestinian terror attacks

No tour of Middle East conflict zones could be complete without a stop at Sderot, an Israeli town of 24,000 that stands uncomfortably close to the Gaza Strip. The rain of rockets out of the Palestinian enclave has made Sderot famous for two things: the thickness of its roofs (even bus stops have reinforced concrete tops); and the collection of crumpled missiles arrayed in racks behind the police station. As a visiting VIP in 2008, U.S. Senator Barack Obama dutifully inspected what the machine shops of Islamic Jihad and Hamas fashioned from lengths of pipe and scrap metal. Low-tech doesn’t begin to cover it. [...]

Back to the Beersheba wedding. The revelry appears to carry on oblivious to the wail of air-raid sirens competing with the DJ (that song in the background is “Sunday Morning” by Maroon 5). If Israelis no longer scramble to shelters, then Iron Dome really has changed the dynamic. It’s not yet at that point; schools still close when the rockets fly, and parents stay home from work. But Rafael’s head of research and development, who began work on Iron Dome even before the government thought to ask for it, tells TIME that its overarching accomplishment is that it can break the pernicious cycle of escalation that can lead to things like invasions. The batteries can liberate Israel’s elected leaders from the public pressure that comes with mass casualties. “The big success of Iron Dome is not how many missiles we intercept,” says Roni Potasman, the executive vice president for R&D. “The main success is what happened in the decisionmaking civilian population environment. The quiet time. Clausewitz used to say the mission of the military is to provide the time for the decisionmakers to decide. Now, if out of 500 missiles, 10 of them get by and cause casualties, a school or kindergarten, then this is a whole different story.” [...]

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