Monday, 19 January 2009
The ceasefire announced yesterday in Gaza has got to be good news for Israelis and Gazans alike. Let's see how long it lasts.
Will more Qassams landing in Sderot mean an end to the ceasefire and a resumption of Israeli action?
Given that the stated reason for the Israeli incursion is the continued risk to Israeli national security through the shooting of these rockets from Gaza, it seems logical that every effort should be made to prevent further rockets landing. It's not as if there's any likelihood that the mindset of the people firing them will change. I'd argue that every Palestinian killed by Israeli military action is replaced by five more as a result of that same action. This doesn't indicate support for Hamas - it's simple statement of political reality.
Logically then, I'd argue that the Israelis should be devoting a great deal of time and energy to the development of weapon systems which would destroy the Qassams (and whatever else is being lobbed across the border) before they could do any damage. This would expand the political options available to the Israelis exponentially.
Indeed, the citizens of Sderot feel so strongly about this that they have resorted to legal action.
Part of this is directed towards demanding that the IDF take the necessary measures to ensure defence of the town. It's interesting that these Israelis have so little confidence in their government that they believe that this is necessary.
There are weapons systems designed for this type of short range defense. One of the most respected is the Phalanx system which has been used with 80% effectiveness to defend the Green Zone in Baghdad.
There is a new system, Iron Dome, currently under development. Ron Ben-Yishai comments on the Israeli government decision to pursue development in September 2007 -
The decision made on Thursday is a strategic milestone. If Israel succeeds in finding a solution for the short-rang rockets launched, even if it is only a partial solution, it will bring about a shift in the balance of power between Israel and the terrorists and radical Islam operating against it.
Not only will the population be better protected from Katyushas and bigger Syrian rockets in the North and Qassams in the Negev, but Israel will regain the political freedom that it lost due to the rocket threat.
Another report indicates that Iron Dome was successfully tested in July 2007.
Not a lot of this makes sense to me. We know that there are systems that have been used successfully elsewhere such as Phalanx. We know that the Israelis have been looking at developing Iron Dome since 2007. We know some Israelis hold a fairly dim view of existing IDF measures to maintain their security.
Because of the historical lack of success of military incursion (the rockets continue since the most recent action, although at about one third of their maximum rate), it's time the folllowing questions were posed -
Why aren't more resources being deployed to develop effective defence against rockets?
Why aren't already available systems being deployed with greater energy?
Hopefully the answer doesn't have anything to do with forthcoming Israeli elections and the need to have positive political spin available on the issue of defence.
Update: The rockets continue - despite the ceasefire, and Hamas' giving the Israelis a week to withdraw..
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