Assessing the Recent Gaza Clash

The Iron Dome system in Israel is the first functioning anti-missile system in the world.  Although it operates effectively there are two major drawbacks of any such anti-missile system:

  1. Cost, it costs much more to fire an anti-missile up against a cheap mass-produced rocket such as those used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from Gaza, which have no guidance system.  However, if the anti-missile system works and rockets are intercepted it saves lives and damage to buildings.  Part of the cost is reduced by the fact that the computer control system is sophisticated enough to calculate the trajectory of the rockets and not fire against any that are not targeted on built-up/populated areas.
  2. Overwhelming the system.  By firing salvos of rockets at the same time, the anti-missile system can be overwhelmed and will be unable to intercept them all.  In this recent round of attacks Hamas and IJ used this tactic.  For example, they fired 117 rockets against Ashdod between 7-8 pm on the Sunday of the attacks.  However, the IDF were aware of this tactic and upgraded the system, so that it intercepted 116 of the rockets, only one actually got through and only one person, Menachem Prezuaman, was killed.  But he was in fact not killed by this rocket, but by falling shrapnel from other intercepted rockets because he went outside for a smoke and was running back to the shelter when he was hit.

Overall, the Iron Dome has successfully intercepted 85% of those rockets fired towards populated areas.  A military expert, Brig-Gen. Uzi Eilam, stated that “although the ability of the system is very high, no system can be 100%.”  Of the four people killed during the latest attacks using 690 rockets, one was killed by a mortar shell close to the Gaza border, so only three people were actually killed by these rockets.  But, in response to the rocket attacks the IAF conducted 350 raids against targets in Gaza, destroying major Hamas infrastructure and killing one commander Ahmed Khodary in a targeted attack on his car.  Also, 25 Gazans were killed, many of them Hamas or IJ rocket crews, and many others were injured. From an objective point of view Israel won this clash.

But, what was the clash really over this time?  I suggested that it was due to the upcoming Eurovision Contest in Tel Aviv, or the need for the Palestinians for media attention, but actually it was in fact over money!  Because of a Hamas attack against an IDF patrol that killed one soldier, Israel halted the payment of m$10 that it was allowing from Qatar into Gaza.  The Hamas rulers of Gaza were facing ruin without this payment, since no other Arab States or Iran can provide them with such funding.  As a result of the ceasefire agreement, arranged principally through Egypt with Qatar, that no one will confirm, this payment is now being allowed to go through by Israel and in fact has been raised to m$40.   So Hamas is also claiming victory, but at what price? 

(This posting was based in part on the article “Assessing the damage” by Anna Aronheim in The Jerusalem Post at



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