The rockets from Gaza are dumb — meaning, they cannot be aimed at specific targets. But by launching them in the direction of populated Israeli areas, they do cause terror and disrupt normal life. Imagine hearing the roar of air raid sirens while your children are at school. It’s unlikely you’ll bring them to school the next day.
When the rockets rain into Israel, the Israeli public demands quick and forceful action from their government. But less so when the rockets pose less of a threat. And in November, Iron Dome intercepted 80 percent of the rockets in mid-air. Youtube is filled with video shot during this recent conflict by Israelis who, rather than running for their ubiquitous bomb shelters, stood ground to watch Iron Dome at work.
The Israeli defense establishment is famously secretive, but not about Iron Dome. The Israelis have invited a parade of news media from around the world to film the interceptor launch sites, interview Iron Dome’s battery operators and the engineers who developed it. This makes a lot of sense. The more Israel’s enemies believe in Iron Dome’s infallibility, the less likely they are to waste money and time smuggling and launching rockets. It’s a strategy of defensive deterrence. And for the Palestinians, that beats the alternative: Israel’s longstanding strategy of deterrence through overwhelming force, as we saw in Cast Lead. Sadly, hundreds, even thousands, of Palestinians and Israelis will die until a permanent peace is reached — and today that looks like a pipe dream. But in the short run, Iron Dome may save a few lives on both sides.