November 17, 2012 -Day Four of Pillar of Defense- New Iron Dome Deployed to Tel Aviv Shoots Down Incoming Missile
Today is the fourth day of "Operation Pillar of Cloud" Very little has changed since yesterday. The biggest, and most impressive event of the day was the downing of a Hamas missile headed for the Tel Aviv area. Earlier this afternoon, Rafael Industry (the developers of the Iron Dome system) delivered its fifth Iron Dome battery to the IDF. The latest battery (v. 2) is the enhanced version. The delivery took place 3 months before schedule. It was rushed in order for the battery to be deployed this week. As a result, even the battery operators were mostly newly minted soldiers. The missile system was delivered at 2pm. At 4pm it was deemed operational. One hour later, sirens went off in Tel Aviv (On live TV). It so happened that Israel's channel 10 TV crews were at the Iron Dome site, having reported on the new deployment from the site a few moments earlier. Thus, Israelis (and eventually the world) got to watch as Israeli soldiers ran to their positions and the Iron Dome missile was fired to intercept the incoming missile- in real time. Then everyone was able to watch as the missile was intercepted and blew up in the sky- all in real time.
While, overall, the Iron Dome has achieved amazing results (with close to 95% of the rockets that would have landed in populated zones destroyed), the psychological effect of the success of the intercepting rockets targeting Tel Aviv cannot be overstated. On one hand, the missile was on target to hit the Tel Aviv area- the damage that rocket could have done is potentially large. However, the fact that a new and even more accurate version of the Iron Dome could be deployed so rapidly is a major boost for Israel. The fact that the new battery is now protecting the whole Metropolitain Tel Aviv area is an even greater achievement. The rules of the game have changed. Hamas has fired 900 missiles into Israel. Only 25 rockets landed in populated areas. Those who were hurt had not followed the instructions on what to do. With the exception of the tragedy in Kiryat Malachi, the rockets caused damage, but no casualties. If I was Hamas, I would be very frustrated. If I was Hezbollah, and thinking of confronting Israel, I would also have to begin to realize that my one successful weapon has been neutralized by Israeli techonolgy.
So, how this operation going to end? The residents of the South would be happy if it kept going until the situation was “solved”. That is unlikely to happen, however. Foreign Minister Lieberman, one of the greatest advocates of ending the rule of Hamas, stated publically that any attempt of ending that rule will have to wait for the next government. Israel desperately does not want to invade the Gaza Strip– since there is little that can achieved, and everything to lose in terms of pubic relations. Hamas is under a great deal of pressure from Egypt to bring this round to an end. As the last thing the Egyptians want at the moment is to have to deal with an Israeli ground attack. Hopefully, as a result an agreement could be reached in the next two day to bring this round to an end.