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So far, the Iron Dome batteries installed in the Negev have missed most of the missiles fired at Israel and were not used against mortar barrages. The distances are too small for the Dome to react reliably, the number of batteries is too low to achieve saturation level, and the cost of interceptors is too high to use them against probable targets.

The Iron Dome’s operation confirmed our expectations: after it intercepted a Grad rocket fired at Ashkelon, IDF did not retaliate as it would usually do when large population centers are targeted. That led to escalation because the Muslims saw that they could score PR points with impunity.

Iron Dome battery

Rocket hits SderotThe Israeli government has accepted a ceasefire arrangement with Hamas under which the terrorist group will refrain from firing missiles at larger Israeli cities such as Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Beersheba, but will be permitted to continue small-scale attacks on Sderot and the Negev kibbutzim.

Think about it: Hamas is concerned that its credibility with Gazans will be damaged unless it keeps up its attacks on some Jewish cities, but the Israeli government’s credibility remains intact if Hamas attacks some Jewish towns.

The ceasefire reinstates an earlier situation in which Hamas fired at backwater Jewish communities at will while IDF contented itself with striking empty shacks in Gaza.

Hamas justifies its current escalation by pointing to the Israeli occupation of a 550-yard-wide strip along the Gaza border. IDF carved out this strip to prevent Muslim terrorists from approaching the border fence.
No similar strip exists at Israel’s border with Lebanon because Hezbollah is deterred by the threat of Israeli reprisals. But pointless attacks on empty shacks in Gaza won’t deter Hamas.

Israel must cede the buffer zone and switch to really deterring attacks by threatening to retaliate against Hamas’ administrative buildings. Since Egypt is ready to open the Rafah Crossing, establishing such a deterrent is the only logical tactic, anyway.

April 2011
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