The Costly Success of Israels Iron Dome – The Atlantic

Posted By on May 27, 2021

This architecture is, however, just one of the ways in which Iron Dome is unique. In fact, its very strengths and weaknesses reflect those of the country that developed it, epitomizing Israels interminable conflict with the Palestinians.

On the one hand, Iron Dome is the perfect example of Israeli ingenuity and improvisation, the journalist Yaakov Katz, who co-wrote The Weapon Wizards, a book about Israels arms industry, told me. But its very success is a reflection of Israels biggest problem. Iron Dome allows you to almost ignore the fact that you have a neighbor just across the border with thousands of rockets pointed at you, because they can no longer really harm you. Iron Dome allows you not to find deeper solutions for that problem. And thats very Israeli as well.

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Iron Dome is incredibly popular among Israelis, and understandably so. Although Israel suffered a dozen fatalities during this months fighting, more than 240 Palestinians died. That discrepancy, largely due to the effectiveness of Iron Dome, also bears itself out in physical damage to homes, buildings, and infrastructure more broadly. Even during an intense conflict such as this one, the missile-defense system provides a sense of security.

But it also means many Israelis do not feel the urgency, or sufficient enough optimism, to press their leaders to solve the underlying problems causing the long-term crisis facing Gaza, where 2 million people live in a fetid, crowded coastal strip, under near-total blockade by Israel and Egypt since Hamas took over in 2007. Nor do many feel the need to address the wider historic conflict with the Palestinians that has been going on since before Israels founding in 1948. According to the pollster Dahlia Scheindlin, Israelis rank security first on their list of priorities, followed by financial concerns; resolving the conflict with the Palestinians typically ranks fifth or sixth, and is seen by Israelis as separate from the feeling of security. Youve got to ask yourself, Scheindlin told me, if Israelis focus on security as defined by a piece of military hardware rather than on the core problem itself, isnt that a false sense of security?

Much of what provides that sense of security is the visible deterrent that Iron Dome offers, cutting off rockets in the sky. What Israelis dont see is the true heart of the systemnot the interceptor missiles or the mobile batteries, but the mathematics. The algorithm that has been coded into the system, and that is constantly being improved upon, enables Iron Domes control center to track and predict the trajectories of incoming missiles, working out where they can be expected to fall, and issuing interception orders only if the point of impact is a built-up area, so as not to waste expensive interceptor rockets on harmless projectiles.

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The Costly Success of Israels Iron Dome - The Atlantic

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