Friday, April 15, 2011

Israel's Rocket Problem

Since 2002 Palestinians have fired thousands of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip. The rockets are unguided, currently have a range of up to 40 kilometers, and are typically packed with explosives and shrapnel. They can be considered a terrorist weapon because they are designed to cause indiscriminate damage and maximum disruption to daily life. Dozens of Israelis have been killed, mostly civilians because the rockets cannot be aimed with much accuracy. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) usually retaliate against rocket attacks and kill disproportionately more Palestinians, though the Palestinian casualties are more targeted than the Israeli ones.

Iron Dome deployed in Israel
An Iron Dome missile battery
One of Israel's defensive strategies is to deploy a rocket interception system called Iron Dome. Iron Dome tracks projectiles fired from Gaza, analyzes their trajectories, and fire a guided interceptor called the Tamir missile. On April 7, 2011, Iron Dome successfully intercepted a rocket fired at Ashkelon—a coastal city with over 100,000 residents—marking the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted.

The problem with Iron Dome is not technical but economical. Each Tamir missile is estimated to cost between $35,000 and $50,000, while each crude Palestinian rocket could not cost much more than a few hundred dollars. The Tamir is created in advanced laboratories with state-of-the-art components; the Palestinian rockets are made in clandestine workshops with antiquated hardware. For each interception, the Palestinians effectively impose a cost on Israel something like 100 times their own. Without the threat of aggressive retaliation by the IDF, it seems Iron Dome could actually invite more rocket attacks. Israel clearly leads the world in this kind of defensive technology but I do not see their rocket problem being solved with technology alone.

1 comment:

  1. Thats correct!! deploying more Iron dome batteries means that Israel might have to spend billions of Dollars just to fend off tiny crude rockets and remaining silent even when terrorists across the border keep firing hundreds of rockets with the aim of killing civilians.IDF should rely on armed UCAVs rather than iron dome!!